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As the snow and cold returns to the Peace Region and our residents and communities start to hunker down for the holidays, people are looking forward to putting another turbulent year behind them as they look forward to a new year filled with hope and recovery.

Between COVID, the horrific wildfire season, and the devastating floods that have destroyed infrastructure, uprooted entire communities, and even cost lives, the challenges our province has faced this past year have been monumental and numerous.

But as they say, look for the heroes in times of crisis. On some of the darkest and most tumultuous days our province faced, it was the many stories of incredible citizens and their brave and selfless acts that gave me hope on some of the most difficult days. This year has taught us many things, but above all it has taught us that our province is home to countless local heroes who live, work, and play in communities and hometowns in all corners of this province; so in my last column before the new year, I would like to dedicate these holiday greetings to the many everyday heroes here in the Peace River region and across our province.

There are far too many acts of heroism and generosity from too many individuals, groups, and communities to recognize in just a few hundred words, but I would like to highlight some of the ones that stood out for me. They include our healthcare and frontline workers here in the Northern Health region who have helped keep our hospitals and essential services running in the face of incredible staffing shortages, limited hospital capacity, and the many challenges of COVID.

I also remember the British Columbians who advocated for more supports for our veterans when our Legions were excluded from some of the province’s COVID recovery grants. In addition, I remember the people, neighbourhoods and towns that opened their homes and community centres to British Columbians displaced by the wildfires this past summer and the floods this fall. I thank our local fire departments that sent firefighters to assist.

I remember the generous people at gurdwaras and religious centres who cooked thousands of meals for individuals and families when they were forced to evacuate their homes in Abbotsford and the southern Interior. And when floodwaters swept through the Sumas Prairie, many others grabbed boats, jet-skis, trucks and even helicopters, anything they could muster,to help farmers save livestock and carry stranded families to safety. I thank all the local folks that give so generously to local hamper programs and support our Peace Region community organizations.

The spirit of heroism, selflessness, generosity, and care for ourfellow British Columbians is the spirit I will carry with me throughout the holiday season and into next year as I continue my duties as your MLA, and I know everyone here in Fort St. John and the Peace River region will as well.

As many of us prepare to take to the roads this holiday season to visit friends and families, I would also like to remind everyone that driving conditions this time of year can be especially treacherous, and with many of our province’s roadways damaged and closed, it has never been more important to be prepared and plan our trips ahead of time.

From my family to yours, I wish you all a very safe and Merry Christmas, a happy holiday season and a very happy New Year.

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