My Experience Serving Charleswood
Published in June 2019 Lifestyles 55
I have had the privilege of representing the constituency of Charleswood in the Manitoba Legislature for over 20 years. It has been an incredible honour for me to serve the public in such a way.
Being of service to others is something that I have strived to do throughout my entire life. Before entering politics the path that I chose was rooted in my strong desire to make a difference. I had a rewarding career as a registered nurse with experience in general duty, nursing education, quality assurance, medical and nursing research, patient education, and nursing administration. It was during my time as a nurse that I became passionate about finding ways to strengthen our health care system.
I later became the President and Executive Director of Child Find Manitoba. I was passionate about this cause and it was through this determination that this organization was able to grow into today’s Canadian Centre for Child Protection which is now recognized across Canada and the world as a key player in child protection issues.
When I decided to enter politics, I did so because I wanted to make a difference. Years later and I am still as enthusiastic to serve the constituents of Charleswood as I was then.
Two local acheivements of mine have shown how politicians can make a big difference in a community. In 1999 the United Nations declared the year the International Year of the Older Persons. A part of this declaration asked people all over the world to look around their communities to see what is being done for older community members. I noticed that Charleswood was lacking dedicated programming for the seniors of our community. So, I brought seniors together to find ways to celebrate our seniors. Our group held many events for seniors and created a newsletter. These seniors went on create the Charleswood Seniors Centre, now the Charleswood 55+ Active Living Centre, which now boasts over 400 members and has become a significant asset to Charleswood. Another community initiative I started is the Charleswood Community Leaders Networking Luncheons. I started this networking initiative to bring together community leaders from Charleswood to network and hear from special guest speakers about issues of importance to our community. It became an opportunity for our community to strengthen itself from within.
Being the MLA for Charleswood has meant that while I have been so privileged to be able to work within the constituency, I have also been able to represent Charleswood at the Legislature. I am proud of the diverse roles I have had including that of Deputy Leader, Critic for Health, Status of Women, Finance, Civil Service & Crown Corporations Council, Child & Family Services, Education, and Legislative Assistant to the Minister of Family Services and Minister of Health. I have been a member of the Public Accounts Committee and the Standing Committees of WCB & Children’s Advocate.
It is rare that an opposition MLA can have a Private Members Bill passed but I am humbled that I have had five of my Private Members’ Bills passed. It is my great honour to have been able to bring together MLAs of all political stripes to support these bills that have promoted women and women’s health, worked to prevent the possibility of date-rape in bars, and led to the establishment of a monument of Nellie McClung and the Famous Five on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature.
I have had the opportunity to work with colleagues all throughout the Commonwealth. In 2011, I was elected for a 3-year term as Chair of the Canadian Region of Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) by my peers from across the country. In September 2012, I was also elected the Vice-Chair CWP International. CWP works for better representation of women in legislatures throughout Canada and the Commonwealth and strategizes and acts on gender-related issues in Canada and internationally.
I am honoured that my professional achievements have earned me recognition in the "Canadian Who’s Who” and also recognition as a Manitoba Legislative Assembly “Trailblazer of the First 100 Years”. For service to my community, I was presented the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal as well as being made an honourary Rotarian. I am also a member of Women of Winnipeg, an organization of women identified as leaders in the community.
My most recent role has been that of Speaker of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly. This is a position I was elected to on May 16, 2016. It has been a great privilege to be in this role. I am only the fourth female Speaker in the history of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly and am currently the only female Speaker in Canada.
Representing Charleswood in the Manitoba Legislature has been a true privilege and I am so grateful for the support given to me by my constituents.