As we close Black History Month, I was honoured to join the women of the Pan-African Ahmadiyya Muslims Association Canada and the Afro-descendant community of Orléans. I was grateful for the opportunity to learn about the trailblazers and leaders of our Pan-African community and their unique history, heritage and cultural contributions to Orléans, Canada and our economy. 

February 14th marked for the first time in our history the invocation of the Emergencies Act. As the Convoy entered its third consecutive week, and after the City of Ottawa and the Province of Ontario declared a State of Emergency, it was clear that the escalated behaviour and illegal occupation of the protestors showed no signs of peacefully and respectfully ending.  For the residents of Ottawa and Orléans these demonstrations continued to restrict their ability to partake in annual winter activities, along with impeding our businesses to reopen. Due to the exceptional work of law enforcement, I am glad to see that Ottawa is returning to a peaceful and free setting. As Ottawa returns to normality, I urge you all to remain vigilant and safe when reexploring our beautiful capital city.  

On February 19, my colleague, Minister Helena Jaczek, announced a $20 million investment to provide non-repayable contributions to Ottawa’s businesses that have suffered losses due to the illegal blockades. As a former small business owner, I was overjoyed to see a non-repayable contribution of up to $10,000 of non-deferrable operational costs for small businesses.  

February 24 marked an international moment in history as Russia invaded Ukraine. I strongly condemn Russia’s attack and I stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine. As this conflict unfolds, the people of Ukraine and the Orléans Ukrainian community are in my thoughts. As Parliamentary Secretary to Minister Fraser, I support the announcement for greater immigration support for Ukrainians. To aid the ongoing humanitarian disaster, the Government will prioritize citizenship grants and permanent residency cards, wave fees for travel and immigration documents for Ukrainians. 

As we enter the month of March, it is my tradition to celebrate International Women’s Day by highlighting the exceptional dedication shown by women of all ages from our community. On March 4th, I will proudly grant the Orléans Leading Women and Girl Recognition Award to 31 women that were nominated by our community during the annual Women’s Day Breakfast. 

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