Tribute to the Honourable Dan Christmas

By: The Hon. Jane Cordy

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Parliament and the Supreme Court of Canada, Ottawa

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, it sometimes happens that we get so wrapped up in the day-to-day business of meetings, emails and telephone calls that it is easy for time to slip by. We must make a conscious effort to remember what we are here for: It is the voices and the people we are here to represent.

Senator Christmas, you have been nothing but exemplary in that position. I am so delighted to pay tribute to you today for your years of dedication to your community, and for your time here in the Senate. At the same time, I am sad that we will miss that strong Nova Scotian — well, that strong Cape Breton Membertou voice in the Senate.

Senator Christmas, you were the first Mi’kmaq senator to be appointed to the Senate. You must have felt a sense of pride, and perhaps just a little bit of pressure. Rest assured, you were more than up for the task.

Recognized for your work helping turn Membertou into one of the most successful First Nations communities in the country, Senator Christmas, you spent a lifetime advocating for Mi’kmaq Aboriginal and treaty rights in Nova Scotia. Your work did not go unnoticed. You received honorary degrees from Dalhousie University, Saint Mary’s University and Cape Breton University; an honorary diploma from Nova Scotia Community College; and you received the National Excellence in Aboriginal Leadership Award from the Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of Canada.

Senator Christmas, I saw first-hand your commitment to the issue of treaty rights when we both worked, last spring, as members of the Senate Fisheries and Oceans Committee, and studied the issue of respecting and advancing the full implementation of Mi’kmaq rights-based fisheries. Your experience, and your knowledge, was invaluable to the committee.

Senator, your voice will be missed around the committee table. After your appointment to the Senate, Senator Christmas, you were quoted as saying that you felt like an ambassador of the Mi’kmaq Nation in Ottawa, which is very true, but we were also lucky to have you as an ambassador of the Senate of Canada in Cape Breton and in Membertou.

Ottawa can sometimes feel like it is very far away from those of us living in the regions. By opening your senatorial office in Membertou, you have helped to bridge the distance between your community and the Senate. I’m sure that for members of your community, it has been extremely important to have that point of contact.

Dan, you are the epitome of strong leadership. You are not loud, but you are forceful. You are thoughtful and measured. You are fair. You listen, and you are respectful. People want to work with you.

Dan, it has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with you and to get to know you over the last six years. On behalf of the Progressive Senate Group, I wish you all the best as you embark on the next chapter of your life.

By the way, I still intend to take you up on your offer to attend the Membertou powwow as your guest. Thank you.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

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