Hon. Michèle Audette: [Editor’s Note: Senator Audette spoke in Innu.]
Kwei, honourable colleagues.
I rise today in the upper chamber with my heart full of pride. This is why: On October 3, Quebecers went to the polls to elect a government. That election was rather special. Several First Nations candidates were running for different parties in the Quebec election. I would like to congratulate and name those candidates: Maïtée Labrecque-Saganash, Kateri Champagne Jourdain, Jacline Rouleau, Jacques T. Watso, Gérard Briand, Michaël Ottereyes, Benjamin Gingras and Tunu Napartuk.
In this election, Kateri Champagne Jourdain became the first Innu woman to be elected as an MNA. That is amazing. The same sense of pride was felt when Alexis Wawanoloath, an Abenaki man, became the first Indigenous person to be elected to the National Assembly many moons ago.
On Thursday, October 20, there was another first in Quebec’s history when Kateri Champagne Jourdain was appointed Minister of Employment and minister responsible for the North Shore region, my beloved North Shore. To say I am proud is an understatement.
I will echo the words of my community’s chief, Mike Pelash Mckenzie, who said the following after her appointment:
Kateri Champagne Jourdain’s appointment to cabinet is a wonderful sign of confidence and recognition from the premier. Ms. Champagne Jourdain is unquestionably skilled, and we are confident she will succeed in her role.
He believes that this is more proof for the members of our nation, especially women and youth, that we can all succeed and have an important role in society. We wish Ms. Champagne Jourdain all the best in her new position.
Of course, this appointment is not just historic for me. It recognizes the woman and the Innu woman, especially her skills, her knowledge, her leadership and her language, Innu-aimun. As we say back home, that is big. Nasss ne shenen.
I agree with Premier Legault that this appointment does not mean everything should fall on the shoulders of our new Innu minister. I hope that the burden will be shared by Quebec society as a whole and, of course, by this government’s cabinet.
Once again, Kateri, I congratulate you and commend your family for supporting you in this new endeavour. Good luck. Iame.