Honorable Senators, 2020 has been a tough year. We have lost loved ones, missed birthday celebrations and graduations, postponed weddings, virtually celebrated religious holidays and cancelled travel plans. This holiday season will also be difficult.

While this year has been full of challenges and hardships it has also taught us many important lessons. We have been reminded to cherish moments with loved ones – we all miss dinner parties with family and friends, lunches with colleagues, and hugs and kisses from our children and grandchildren. Things that we may have once taken for granted are now what we yearn for and cherish most. 

We have also been astounded by the selflessness of essential workers – During this difficult and scary time, essential workers have stepped up to the plate, often risking their own personal health and well-being to care for their communities. This pandemic has showed us who the real heroes are and that they don’t wear capes. 

We have witnessed the power of a movement – The unjust murder of George Floyd sparked a global movement and has shed light on systematic racism that is rampant in our society and our institutions. This movement inspired me and my team to study systemic racism and educate ourselves and others about its prevalence in nearly all aspects of society.  

I recently launched a project titled The Invisible Visible Minority which I hope starts an important conversation about all the barriers that exist for racialized people in Canada and encourages decision makers to take steps to remove them. The pandemic has also shed light on social and gender inequalities that exist within our society.

This virus has disproportionately impacted women who now have to take on additional responsibilities within their households often at the expense of their careers. While we have made great strides for gender equality our fight is not over and this pandemic is a great reminder of that. 

Finally, the pandemic has served as an important reminder that during challenging times, Canadians come together. 

Honorable Senators, As the holiday season approaches, I would like to send my best wishes for good health and happiness to you and your family. To senators, those working with us, and all Canadians, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year. All the best in 2021. Thank you.

Note: Unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances that led to the cancellation of statements and questions, I was unable to deliver this statement in the Senate Chamber on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020 as planned.