This week, we had the International Day of the Girl. In recognition of this day, I’m calling for nominations for some of the most incredible young women we have in Winnipeg Centre for Canada’s 150th Anniversary MP’s Medal for Volunteerism. So, if you know a young lady in Winnipeg Centre who is making a difference, whether it’s in school, church, local community centres or just going around town making life better for other people, please nominate them for this award. We want to celebrate them during Women’s Month in October so we can build our people up and not tear them down.
The governments of Canada and Manitoba today announced support for Siloam Mission’s Make Room campaign, which aims to add more than 54,300 square feet of additional shelter, programming and administrative space to its current location.
The announcement was made by the Honourable Scott Fielding, Manitoba Minister of Families, and Robert Falcon-Ouellette, Member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre, on behalf of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and Minister Responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
Through the Investment in Affordable Housing agreement, the federal and provincial governments provided $3 million in funding for the development.
The project aims to create a service-based campus at the Mission’s current downtown location, in the form of a new two-storey link between the existing shelter building at 300 Princess Street and the soon-to be competed 400 seat dining area at 303 Stanley Avenue.
The expansion will create approximately 50 new overnight shelter beds, including up to 21 dedicated beds for women, and new space for Siloam’s health services, administrative and volunteer resource areas.
Founded in 1987, the Mission provides 110 bed spaces and services at its emergency shelter located on Princess Street, and is one of five emergency shelters that receives support from the Manitoba government through its $1.6 million Emergency Shelter Assistance.
Grant Nazarko is the recent recipient of the Winnipeg Centre M.P.s 150th Anniversary medal for volunteerism. Grant, with assistance from the Downtown Biz, has been responsible for the Living Flag here in Manitoba, which has helped make Winnipeg a better place to live. He has, for over 7 seven years, brought people together and made getting people downtown a mission. Through this initiative, we now rub shoulders together every July 1 with between 3500 and 5000 citizens from all walks of life. Everyone should be a part of the experience of building communities like Grant.
Grant Nazarko became involved with creating a Canada Day Living Flag in 2011 after some arm twisting by friend Ken Kelly. Ken Kelly started the Living Flag concept in 2006 when he was the general manager of Downtown Victoria Business Association and has continued to promote this activity across Canada.
In 2011 after approaching a couple of Winnipeg organizations the Winnipeg’s Downtown Biz agreed to assist and support this concept. The Biz has continued to support this activity. The first three Canada Day living flags (2011, 2012 and 2013) were held in front of the Manitoba Legislative building. The picture from the 2013 Living Flag was used in one of the Canada Post commemorative stamps.
The Living Flag project provides an opportunity to showcase the city and in 2014 it was decided to leave the beautiful legislative grounds and our Golden Boy backdrop and use other famous city landmarks. In 2014 the Living Flag was formed at the Forks with the Museum of Human Rights as a backdrop. In 2015 and 2016 the Living Flag was created at Shaw Park with Winnipeg’s hi-rises at Portage and Main as a backdrop in 2015 and the Museum of Human Rights as a backdrop in 2016.
Canada’s 150th anniversary provided an opportunity to do something unique. The Winnipeg Biz was able to have Portage and Main closed for 2 hours. Knowing that 7 or 8 other Canadian cities were planning to compete with Winnipeg to create Canada’s largest Living Flag it was an opportune time to do something completely unique during the limited 2 hours.
Grant decided that the iconic intersection of Portage and Main would be a perfect place to create Canada’s first and largest living maple leaf. The success was evident with over 15 million viewing of the Dan Harper’s time lapse video and the number of international news services that carried the event. Winnipeg’s international coverage is the envy of the other cities that created living flags…some bigger then Winnipeg’s winning flags in past years.
The concept of a Living Flag provides an opportunity for participants to meet and show their pride of being a Canadian, especially meeting new Canadians. It is an opportunity to create a little competition between cities and to showcase their city.
Creating an event in downtown Winnipeg coincides with my belief that downtowns need to have events that will bring urbanites downtown to see and experience the vibrancy of the core area and hopefully encourage them to spend more time downtown.
No community project is successful unless there are a large number of volunteers and participants. Noted help by Stantec, and the continued assistance by Janice Dobson, Joe MacKenzie and Teresita Guerra and the 70+ other volunteers has made this a successful event. Many volunteers have participated in all the 7 years. In the 7 years that we hosted a Living Flag type event in Winnipeg we have had over 21.000 participants. On a national basis there have been in excess of 230,000 individuals forming living flags from Victoria to Charlottetown.
Grant adds, “On a personal basis I am a passionate Canadian and fervent supporter of Winnipeg. I am a retired business owner, married to Eileen for nearly 43 years, father of 4 and grandfather of 6….soon to be 7. I continue to volunteer on several levels including Vice President of Columbus Courts (a Manitoba Housing low income housing facility) Board of Directors, the upcoming Canada Games, and other community and church organizations. I believe that “you must put more into your community then you take out”. A motto my Dad instilled in his family.”
July 22 2017 – I’m here at HMCS Quadra, one of the many cadet training centres across Canada. Here, youths from 12-18 learn leadership, working hard, contributing to their surroundings and learning about themselves. The program is free, available to all Canadian youth across the country. Contact your local cadets, whether it’s army, air or sea cadets. It’s a great learning and growing experience. (I even met my wife here!)
Today I had the opportunity to set up a Tipi in front of my office to talk to the constituents of Winnipeg Centre! People came by to talk about immigration issues, education, housing and Indigenous languages. I wanted to present a new way to connect to my fellow citizens and am proud to offer this opportunity. I also met Jimmy Carter today, who helped build 150 houses for Habitat for Humanity across Canada. If you have any questions or concerns, you can come by the office at 594 Ellice or call us at 204-984-1675.
Patricia Furman is the executive director of the Robertson Early Enrichment program and most recently one of seventeen recipients of the Prime Ministers Awards for Teaching Excellence and Excellence in Early Childhood Education. As the Member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre – Heart of Canada, I am proud to present Patricia with a Winnipeg Centre MP 150th Anniversary Medal for Volunteerism. Patricia has done extensive work for children living with special needs. The hours of work that she and her staff have done to build an enriching environment for all children is a testament to the human ability to make change in our world a reality. The services that are offered by the Robertson Centre would not exists without Patricia’s work. The centre provides crucial services that help facilitate cognitive, language and motors skills of young children.
Robert Falcon Ouellette, PhD, CD, MP
Winnipeg Centre-Heart of Canada
594 Ellice Ave
Winnipeg, MB R3G0A3
It is rare that one gets to meet a truly extraordinary person; Hasan Syed is a nurse running from Vancouver to Ottawa and visiting communities across to Canada to raise awareness on access to clean water. Hasan came to Canada from Pakistan when he was 10 years old and he has always felt that Canada was a great country. Recently, though, he learned of the water issues and lack of access to clean water that is faced by Indigenous Canadians. Confronted with this new knowledge, he felt it was not enough to just become educated, but he wanted to make a difference by running across Canada for access to clean water and raise awareness among Canadians, like himself, who do not often give much thought to the issues faced by Indigenous peoples.
His run is a call to action. Here is the interview that we had about the great work he is doing.
You can also follow him on facebook
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to talk about Bill C-44.
I would like to start with a quote by Pope Francis, who stated:
And every man, every woman who has to take up the service of government, must ask themselves two questions: “Do I love my people in order to serve them better? Am I humble and do I listen to everybody, to diverse opinions in order to choose the best path?” If you don’t ask those questions, your governance will not be good.
When I came to Parliament only 19 months ago, I was faced with choices, choices about who I will serve and who I will be working for day in and day out. For me, one thing that guided me throughout that time is that parliamentarians are here to serve all citizens, everyone. I am sure everyone in the House agrees that we must serve both rich and poor alike, but we also have a duty to remind the wealthy to help the poor, to respect them, to promote them, and to build them up. I am reminded of that every time I am in Winnipeg Centre. I am reminded of that when I look at my family and friends and when I am in my riding when I am not here.
A few months ago, on April 16, I was called by Radio-Canada. The journalist was asking questions and wanted comments about the flooding going on in Manitoba and what the federal government’s probable response would be concerning those floods. I said I would certainly talk about the first nation communities affected. It was a Sunday and my wife goes to a soup kitchen every Sunday. It is her form of going to church. She does not enjoy the service so much when she goes to church, but she enjoys going to a soup kitchen run by St. Euclid church in North Point Douglas.
She goes there with about 50 other people who help serve the poorest of the poor of Winnipeg: people who sniff gas, young families, and people who have very little to call their own. She takes my two oldest children, who are 12 and 10 years old, Xavier and Jacob, and I am left to look after the three younger children, who are eight, six, and five years old. I told the journalist that I would love to do the interview on Sunday, but I have to look after my children, so I asked if we could meet somewhere in my riding downtown, to which he said, “Of course.”
My wife dropped me off on the south side of the Manitoba Museum. As we were doing the interview, a gentleman walked by. He was not dressed in an extremely rich way and did not look wealthy. As the interview was taking place, he asked very quickly if he could have a word with me once I was done the interview. He waited patiently until the interview was completed, my kids waiting patiently with him, and then we had the opportunity of speaking. He has been homeless for a number of years and has been forgotten for a number of years. People do not seem to have cared about him or his wife. They sleep under a bridge in Winnipeg. He told me about how many foster families he had been in throughout his life. He had been in 70, if anyone can believe it. He had been in 70 foster families throughout his life. He was taken by the government and thrown from family to family, with really no one to care for him. Imagine the type of individual who creates a sense of connection with others when no one, even as a child, really and truly wanted him.
He asked me what the federal government was doing for him. He said he did not read the newspapers and asked what it was doing for him. I was proud to say that in budget 2016, $69.7 million were given to the provincial government in Manitoba for social housing and infrastructure. I told him that funding is not yet on the ground to build the housing, but I am trying to work with the provincial government to see if it can get to that place to get him housed, get him something. He asked me to please not forget about them and that he voted for me. He said he had picked up beer bottles and managed to raise $10 to buy an ID card so he could vote in the election because it was so important to him. He said not to forget about him and his wife.
When I looked him in the eyes and saw the tears, I sensed at the same time that he is a little ashamed because he is homeless. One has to ask who we are here to serve. I asked myself what I am doing in Parliament and who I serve. I am reminded time and time again about that in my riding when I do meet and greets or go to the local Tim Hortons or Portage Place mall. The Portage Place mall had some racism issues. It was kicking indigenous people out of the mall about a year and a half ago when I was first elected, because they did not look right and were not welcome there.
We seem to have fixed that problem. I do my meet and greet there, so people who are poor and do not look quite right can go into the mall and sit down at the food court, and maybe I will buy them a cup of coffee. I get to hear their stories and what is going on in their lives.
I remember a young lady from an indigenous northern community, who on a Friday afternoon at 3:30 sat down in front of me, and—this is the troubling part—she smelled like she had been doused in kerosene. She was obviously a gas sniffer and had some addiction issues. She had the smell of alcohol on her breath. She had glassy eyes and she said, “Robert, help me.” She had been two weeks on the streets—
Madam Speaker, I did not realize I could not use my own name.
She asked me to help get her off the street. At 3:30, I started calling around to homeless shelters and addiction centres. At 3:30 p.m. on a Friday, it seemed that no one was around to respond to those needs. This is part of the issue about budgets. Budget are large macro things, but the issue goes far deeper. It is actually how we implement that budget on the ground, day in and day out. For me, that is the issue. How do I obtain services for this young lady? How do I get her the addiction counselling that she needs so that she can be successful because she was not happy working the streets?
She had come as a refugee from a northern community looking for better services, a better way, and she ended up slipping through the cracks. By 5:30 or 6:30, I had nothing that I could offer her. That is heartbreaking for an individual MP. All I could do was listen to her story and try to find whatever services existed, but no one seemed to respond on a Friday afternoon.
As we start moving forward in refastening the budget, I call upon the federal government to think about how our educated bureaucrats, who have bachelors’ degrees and masters’ degrees in urban design, social work, and finance, go about crafting the policy, how it actually impacts the people on the ground, how we ensure that we protect not those who do not need protecting but those who really need to be protected. This is the thing that pushes me to ask those bureaucrats to go in the trenches to talk to the people who need to be talked to.
I was proud to do town halls on homelessness recently, as well as on social housing. I went into a homeless shelter and asked homeless people what they want and need, to ensure that we get it for them.
With regard to the budget, I do not want to do a bunch of statistics because people forget stats, but we are contributing $11.2 billion over 11 years to a variety of initiatives to build, renew, and repair Canada’s stock of affordable housing. I know we are trying to renew our federal-provincial-territorial partnership in housing. We are also trying to build a new national housing fund administered through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, which is going to receive another $5 billion over 11 years. We are trying to target housing for people off reserve, and homelessness as well. However, these things are at the macro level, and I want to push our ministers to work for the people on the ground.
I will leave this with one final short quote from Pope Francis.
Each of us has a vision of good and evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is good. Everyone has his or her own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight the evil as he conceives it. That would be enough to make the world a better place.
Robert Falcon Ouellette
Thank-you to professor Karen Drake who helped write this speech.
The full speech can be found at http://www.ourcommons.ca/Parliamentar…
This concerns the rights to be heard and understood in Canada’s original languages in Parliament.
Mr. Speaker, [Member spoke in Cree]
I rise on a point of privilege of prima facie.
[Member spoke in Cree and provided the following translation:]
I am proud to be here.
On May 4, 2017, I rose in the House of Commons to speak on important issues of violence being committed against indigenous women. In order to make a larger impact, it was felt that it would be appropriate to speak in nehiyo, or the Cree language. Even though I had provided documentation to the translation and interpretative services 48 hours prior to my speaking on May 4, 2017, they were unable to provide a time-appropriate translation during members’ statements under Standing Order 31.
It is my belief that my parliamentary privileges have been violated because I could not be understood by my fellow parliamentarians and Canadians viewing the proceedings, thus negating the debate and point that I wished to make. I was effectively silenced, and even though I had the floor and had been duly recognized, my speech was not translated, rendering me silent and thus violating the parliamentary privileges of all MPs present in this chamber. Imagine for an instance if a French Canadian spoke in the House but no translation and interpretative services were provided.
It is is my belief that parliamentarians have a constitutionally protected right to use indigenous languages in Parliament. Subsection 35(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982 states:
The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed.
Do language rights fall within these provisions?
Professor Karen Drake has written about indigenous language rights in Canada as pre-existing the Canadian state, and these rights have not been extinguished and are still present.
Others, like David Leitch and Lorena Fontaine, have been working towards launching a constitutional challenge, arguing that under subsection 35(1), the federal government has not only a negative obligation not to stifle aboriginal languages but a positive obligation to provide the resources necessary to revitalize those languages.
The latter claim is perhaps the most challenging, while the former is more straightforward. Though the test for establishing an aboriginal right under subsection 35(1) has ballooned into a labyrinth of steps, sub-steps, and sub-sub-steps, the core of the test has remained relatively consistent since the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Van der Peet:
…in order to be an aboriginal right an activity must be an element of a practice, custom or tradition integral to the distinctive culture of the aboriginal group claiming the right.
Many, including me, argue that indigenous languages easily meet this test. As Leitch puts it, “there is no more distinguishing feature of most cultures than their languages.”
Robert Falcon Ouellette