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LETTER: MP responds to letter

North Okanagan-Shuswap replies to letter titled ‘MPs should represent all constituents’

Dear Editor,

I write today in response to the Sept. 23 letter to the editor from Ms. Jane Weixl.

Weixl’s assertion that I have not represented all constituents, particularly Indigenous constituents, is simply false.

Since being first elected in 2015, I have built working relationships with leaders of Indigenous communities across the North Okanagan-Shuswap. I have consistently engaged with Indigenous leaders to hear from them directly what the needs and priorities of their communities are to best inform my advocacy on their behalf to the federal government.

While some improvements have been achieved, much more work remains to be done. Indigenous communities in our region continue to face challenges and material gaps in treating water and wastewater for their communities and these are priorities that I have consistently advocated for.

Declining Pacific salmon stocks pose a threat to food security and the continuance of heritage and cultural activities in Indigenous communities in the North Okanagan-Shuswap which is why I continue to fight for policies and resources required to restore our Pacific salmon.

When the remains of at least 215 Indigenous children were confirmed to be buried at the former Kamloops residential school, I promptly wrote the prime minister and Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister directly and pressed them for timely and meaningful commitments to identify, protect and honour the children in line with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action issued in 2015. These overdue steps are essential to healing that we need to move Canada forward towards reconciliation.

On June 7 in the House of Commons, I voted in support of a motion that once again called on the Trudeau government to accelerate the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action. While MPs from all opposition parties supported this motion, the Prime Minister and all his cabinet ministers refused to vote one way or the other.

The path to reconciliation is not short nor is it easy, but it is necessary and possible when Canadians come together to work for a better future that we can all share in, equitably. I will continue to work with Indigenous leaders, elected representatives, and constituents to make the contributions that I can to reconciliation.

I will also continue to work with Indigenous leaders from across the North Okanagan-Shuswap as we work together towards more and better results for the communities we represent.

Sincerely,

Mel Arnold

MP Elect for North Okanagan-Shuswap