Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, it’s wonderful to be back with you all, and particularly so as we witness another swearing-in ceremony. On behalf of the Progressive Senate Group, I’m delighted to join the other leaders in welcoming our newest senators: Senator Paul Prosper — better known as PJ — from Nova Scotia; and Senator Judy White from Newfoundland and Labrador.
As a former teacher, it’s difficult for me to resist my teaching roots, and September will always feel like back-to-school season and the freedom for a fresh start. We may not be starting a new session, but it still feels as if we have an opportunity to take a moment to reflect on what we have already accomplished and what we still intend to do.
These swearing-in ceremonies inevitably remind us of our own first days and how we each felt — with such possibility before us. It’s intimidating, certainly, to be the new kid in class, but I want to echo the voices of the other leaders and tell you both — Senator Prosper and Senator White — that we are all looking forward to having your voices added to our debates here in the Senate.
You have both spoken about the importance of representation. Seeing Senator Christmas, for example, as the first Mi’kmaw senator helped inspire you — I know — Senator Prosper, and your appointment will now be the inspiration for other Mi’kmaw youth.
Senator White, you have said that representation is a way to effect change from within and help “. . . ensure that colonialism is a thing of the past . . . .”
That brings us to this moment: seeing not one but two Mi’kmaw lawyers take their seats in the Senate Chamber. I welcome you both to the other side of the federal legislative process.
We have heard your impressive résumés and accolades that have shaped you into the people you are today. It’s time for you both to take these experiences and wisdom, and forge new paths as you establish yourselves here.
Like school, you’ll find different classes to join — here in the Senate, we call them “committees” — and you may be surprised to discover that sometimes we end up working on issues that we hadn’t even previously considered. I encourage you both to keep an open mind as you navigate your roles here.
Having such a diverse and varied group of senators serves Canadians well, but it remains crucial that we continue to seek out and listen to the voices that are still missing. Our committees help us do that. And as we’ve seen with a few other senators, including Senator Prosper, some of those important voices make the change from Senate committee witness to Senate committee member.
Less than 10 years ago, there had been no Mi’kmaw voices in this chamber. We now have three provinces who each have a Mi’kmaw senator, including — with Senator White — the first woman. Change has been slow to get started, but I’m so pleased to see how quickly it can grow.
On behalf of my colleagues in the Progressive Senate Group — and with some help from our caucus chair, Senator Francis, for pronunciation — it is my pleasure, Senator White and Senator Prosper, to welcome you both to the Senate of Canada. Pjila’si. Thank you.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.