The Honourable Wanda Elaine Thomas Bernard—Congratulations on Frank McKenna Award

By: The Hon. Jane Cordy

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Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I am pleased to be speaking to you from the unceded land of the Mi’kmaq people today.

Honourable senators, it is often easy to sit on the sidelines and watch the game. It is easy to comment from the outside and bemoan what ought to be done and how best to do it. Great ideas, like a great play strategy, are no good unless they can be propelled into action. I greatly admire the doers: those who are able to take germinations of ideas and turn them into actions. We tend to think that we can only effect change at the highest levels, but very often those we consider to have achieved that status started at the grassroots, working diligently to make changes within their own communities. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by many such people, and have been at every level throughout my career. Today, however, I am speaking particularly of our colleague Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard.

Senator Thomas Bernard is the 2020 recipient of the Frank McKenna Award for outstanding leadership and contributions to public policy in Atlantic Canada. I can say without hesitation that Atlantic Canadians have been very fortunate to benefit from the energy and enthusiasm she brought to her previous career in social work, and now through her work as a senator. She has spent a lifetime championing issues impacting African Canadians, employment equity, mental health, human rights and people living with disabilities. Her work as a senator is so valuable to Canadians because she has always contributed and cultivated the knowledge and skills to effect change within Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada. Please join me in congratulating Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard for this honour.

I also congratulate Senator Thomas Bernard and Senator Kutcher for their excellent series on the Pandemic of Racism. Honourable senators, if you have not yet seen these discussions, I would encourage you to watch them on YouTube. They are extremely insightful and pertinent in our current climate. I want to thank you both for these frank and honest discussions. They are the kind of discussions that we all need to make informed decisions.

Honourable senators, while I am acknowledging the honour that Senator Thomas Bernard has received, I am sure we could all recognize many people from our communities who are doing exceptional work. We see great things when we come together and work together to make them so. I encourage Canadians to get involved in their communities and to get others involved as well, because together we can make change happen. Thank you.

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