Honourable senators, it is unmistakable that each person possesses some sort of personal power, whether it be authority, knowledge, skill, talent, money, votes, charisma, charm or ambition, but it is also unmistakably recognizable that there are those who know how to wield their personal power, turn it into passion and use it for the good of others.
I know that I am privileged to know a number of such people and I am fortunate to call some of them trusted colleagues, and it delights me when their work is acknowledged in some way by the country at large. So I was happy to learn that my friend and Progressive Senate Group colleague Senator — and Dr. — Wanda Thomas Bernard has been named by OptiMYz Women’s Wellness magazine as one of Canada’s Top 10 Power Women.
Senator Thomas Bernard was named because of her work as a social worker, academic, community activist and advocate for social change. Highlighted is her extensive work with human rights cases. Having worked with her on the Human Rights Committee while she was chair, I can certainly attest to her commitment to the work of that committee and her unwavering dedication to improving the lives of Canadians.
This sense of mission has perhaps been sharpened by the adversity she has endured throughout her lifetime. Senator Thomas Bernard has dealt with the loss of her father at an early age. She has also spoken several times in this chamber of the racism that she and her family have encountered.
Senator Thomas Bernard is acutely aware of how community is of utmost importance in dealing with such challenges. As a fellow Nova Scotian, I admire the contributions she has made to making our province a better place. Such initiatives include serving as a founding member of the Association of Black Social Workers, a former chair of the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women, as well as being a member of the National Coalition of Advisory Councils on the Status of Women. At Dalhousie University’s School of Social Work, she was appointed as Special Advisor on Diversity and Inclusiveness. Senator Thomas Bernard is a recipient of both the Order of Nova Scotia and the Order of Canada.
Honourable senators, Senator Thomas Bernard is passionate; and what is more, she cares. The things she has done and the things she continues to do for Nova Scotians — and, indeed, all Canadians — make her a role model for all of us. She is most definitely a power woman — and a woman of power. Congratulations to our Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard.