I want to start by recognizing that February is Black History Month, a month where we honour the legacy of Black Canadians and their immense contributions, resilience, and strength. I want to thank you for your community engagement and for your most valuable contributions to our culture and to the entire community of Orléans. 

As part of its commitment to supporting Black Canadian communities, advancing equity and diversity, and combatting different forms of racism, discrimination, and hate, the government is investing in initiatives that recognize the contributions of Black Canadians, while addressing the systemic barriers and challenges faced by Black communities in Canada that have been worsened by the pandemic. On January 24th, the government announced a Call for Concepts for the $200-million Black-led Philanthropic Endowment Fund, to improve social and economic outcomes in Black communities. Black-led charities and non-profit organizations have until February 28th to submit their proposal 

January 26th marked the 12th Bell Let’s Talk Day. Now more than ever, it is essential that we take the time to have an open dialogue on mental health and to take care of ourselves and others.  

Supporting mental health and the well-being of each of you is a priority and I invite you to download the new PocketWell app launched on January 14th providing Canadians with another way to access free, 24/7, online mental health and substance use resources and supports.  Through PocketWell, the Wellness Together Canada (WTC) companion app, individuals can link to the WTC portal to access resources ranging from self-assessment to customized support based on their assessment 

This year, I am pursuing my tradition of highlighting women and young girls from Orléans who demonstrated exceptional leadership through their volunteerism. Thank you to those who have already submitted a nomination form. We also have extended the deadline to receive submissions to Monday, February 21st .  You can request your nomination form by emailing my office at Marie-France.Lalonde@parl.gc.ca. 

As of January 12th, our two local community clinics- François Dupuis Recreation Centre and Orléans Ruddy Family YMCA-YWCA- have been open for drop-ins to everyone eligible for a first dose, 2nd dose or booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. On January 27th , we also celebrated National Kids Vaccine Day where kids aged 5 to 11 could get vaccinated. Thank you to our community for your understanding and your effort.  

Let’s remind ourselves that we are marching in the right direction towards a new normal and until we succeed,  we have to keep the pace in following public health guidelines .