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SENATORS’ STATEMENTS — National Health and Fitness Day

June 3, 2021

Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to National Health and Fitness Day, which takes place on Saturday. I thank all senators for your social media posts, for your energy and for your desire to share what gets you moving.

I also wish to thank Dr. Theresa Tam, our Chief Public Health Officer, who will be including National Health and Fitness Day in her weekly statement to Canadians on Saturday.

This year, as we head into Saturday, I thought instead of me giving my usual invite, I would enlist the services of our new Parliamentary Poet Laureate, Louise Bernice Halfe — her Cree name, Sky Dancer — to inspire you instead. I present to you now her poem, written as she thought about the intent of this work. The poem is called Over Sixty-five.

Sometimes the spirit of the body has no inclination to move. Yet, the cool water on throbbing feet after a half-hearted run refreshes one’s resolve. The heart-throb and gasp for breath drives this reluctant exhilaration.

Sitting in a canoe paddle dipping, gliding past cliffs and forest, hand cutting the water. This gentle sweep moves spirit and body.

Each morning my husband and I lift weights. Stretch above our heads, bend at the waist, arms flapping into a butterfly. Leg press: kneeling has never been so easy. We work our turkey waddle triceps, do full length planks.

We are over sixty-five.

For three years our feet covered over two hundred miles of the Saskatchewan prairie. From the grasslands to the rocky mounds of the angels at the Mystery Rocks, to the murdered sites where we paid homage to the original tribes.

We push beyond the limitations of our reluctance. Honor body, mind and spirit. These gifts of wind, sun, water and earth course through our veins.

Senators, that’s what it’s all about. Look after yourself. Thank you. Meegwetch.

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