Sonia Furstenau

Sonia Furstenau column: MLA vows to keep up the fight

COVID-19 continues to strain our communities

By Sonia Furstenau

COVID-19 continues to strain our communities, highlighting the gaps in services and supports that lead people to fall through the cracks. While this pandemic has certainly showcased these gaps, it is an important time for different levels of government to acknowledge and take action to ensure that we emerge as a more resilient, more equitable province on the other side of this crisis.

Here in Cowichan, we are moving forward with a new hospital, and new high school. We also need urgent investments in emergency and affordable housing, additional supports for small businesses, and a robust plan to tackle both the climate and opioid crises—among other things.

In short, there is a lot of work to be done – but we need to also recognize how much is underway, driven by committed and hardworking people in our community.

Throughout this challenging year, the Cowichan Valley community has displayed incredible resiliency. While campaigning in the recent provincial election, I was repeatedly inspired by the generous nature of the people who live here and have chosen to build their lives in this community.

At the Duncan Farmers Market, I watched members of our community interact, exchange ideas, and offer assistance to those who needed it. The youngest members of our society could be found helping some of the oldest, and vice-versa. The market is always a place where this impressive regard for collective wellbeing can be seen.

I am honoured to be returning to the BC Legislature to resume the important work that we started in 2017. My deepest gratitude lies with all of those who chose to support me in the recent election. Without you, and your belief in me, none of this could have happened. But regardless of whose name you marked on your ballot in October, or whose sign you had on your lawn, I am ready to work for you. As MLA, I am here to support our entire community to navigate and advocate on provincial matters. I am a firm believer in collaborative politics and am convinced that working together leads to the best outcomes for our communities and provinces.

We are facing an unprecedented crisis with COVID-19. Meanwhile, other issues have plagued our society for years prior to this pandemic, and will only continue to do so unless we choose to reflect on our priorities and make this rare moment in history a transformative one.

Homelessness, climate change, systemic racism, and issues related to the underfunding of our education system and mental health supports will not disappear until we come together, collectively, and resolve them. This is my commitment to you, to facilitate and advance that collaborative process for the betterment of the Cowichan Valley. It can at times appear challenging, to recognize the many crises and challenges we face. But I remain optimistic that better outcomes are possible, and the effort that so many put into building those outcomes tells me that others feel the same. The BC Greens embrace a type of politics that we need now more than ever; politics that rejects adversarial approaches and embraces compassion, collaboration, and evidence as the best tools for effective decision-making.

I will continue to be guided by these principles in my continued work as MLA for Cowichan Valley and Leader of the BC Green Party.

•••

Our constituency office has changed locations. My staff and I are still in the process of moving and getting organized, but we will be ready to re-open soon. I will be sharing more information about this in the coming weeks. For the most current updates, you can visit my Facebook page or website — soniafurstenaumla.ca. If you need to reach me, you can do so through my email Sonia.Furstenau.MLA@leg.bc.ca.

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