Hello Chestermere! I cannot believe it is already August. This beautiful weather sure brings out all the fun summer beverages and combine that with many a scorched hot dog, dripping ketchup and bags of potato chips and you pretty much have the perfect summer. I hope you enjoyed the Water Festival.
What makes a great community? Volunteers. We are blessed in Chestermere with many amazing volunteers. Recently I attended and sang the Canadian and Indian National Anthems at the Shri Ram Katha Canada 150 Celebrations. This week-long event was put on by the Hindu Society Of North America (HSNA) at the beautiful Chestermere home of their president, Satish Lal. Dozens of volunteers spent many hours ensuring this celebration went smoothly. Many of them spoke to me and asked about other volunteer opportunities in Chestermere. To top it off, last week I had the honour of being asked back to present volunteer awards and enjoy great company and great food at the Volunteer Appreciation Evening, again at Satish’s home. The HSNA provides cultural, social welfare, disaster relief, and interfaith outreach services to the Hindu and greater Alberta communities. Satish and the rest of our Canadian Hindu community are another great example of service to Alberta and Canada and the diversity that enriches us all.
I would like to also thank everyone who voted in the Unity Vote last week, and started all of us on a new journey to bring the conservative family back together. It was such an honour and a privilege to see so many people working the phones and helping to make sure this vote happened. This was a choice of the grassroots, and you came out in force. I would also like to apologize to those of who tried to vote, and were unable to make it through the phone lines, and for trying over and over again. Thanks to the many volunteers who worked hard to overcome the technical glitches.
We have recently been reaching out to the government with concerns about the lack of information in the Wellness piece of the curriculum. One young lady in particular has been trying to work with the government to try and understand how the sex education is going to develop, and the issue of consent as if fits into the curriculum. Her concerns began after a friend of hers was sexually assaulted, and there was little or no information on the University Campus where she attends as to how to proceed, and what her rights are. Natasha Kornak has now started Right2Know and speaks out about the rights women and men have over their bodies and what real consent is. This is a discussion she believes as do I that needs to start in the classroom in the wellness portion of the curriculum and discussions of healthy relationships, understanding the respect of another human being, and to understand consent and sexual violence. It is one thing to learn about how to prevent pregnancy and contracting STDs, but there is a whole other world waiting for our children outside and we must make sure our kids know about sexual assault and their rights. Let’s help to arm our children with this information long before an attack, so they are not learning about what to do post assault, but that they understand the system and the consequences. No one ever has the right to touch another person’s body without their consent. This is the law, but it is lacking in the curriculum. Alcohol and other mind-altering substances have negated consent as recently as this past February where:
Justice Gregory Lenehan in Nova Scotia, a provincial court judge, stated in the courtroom that “clearly, a drunk can consent”, before acquitting a taxi driver accused of sexually assaulting a female passenger who was found half-naked and unconscious in his cab.
Also, in March:
A Calgary trial made headlines around the world after it emerged that Justice Robin Camp had repeatedly asked a 19-year-old complainant why she had not done more to prevent an alleged rape. “Why couldn’t you just keep your knees together?” Camp asked her. To their credit, the Canadian Judicial Council recommended his removal (he resigned) but we see this far too often in our courts.
Despite being one of Canada’s most prevalent crimes, sexual violence is also one of the most under-reported and among the most difficult on which to obtain a conviction.
We need to be able to talk about these difficult things, and be able to have these conversations to help protect our children and young adults going out into the world. They must understand their right to say “NO”, how to press charges if something like this happens, what are their rights over their evidence should they have a rape kit, and make this information consistent across the province.
As always we love to hear from you. I have been honoured to represent you as your Wildrose MLA, and am honoured now to represent you as your United Conservative MLA.