Dear Friends, 

Across the country we are seeing COVID-19 rates continue to fall, and our vaccination rates against the novel coronavirus continue to rise. The same is true right here in Washington, where more than 70% of all Washingtonians are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

It’s important that we each continue to do our parts to prevent COVID-19 from spreading further, and we must reach out to those around us who have not yet been vaccinated and encourage them to take this important step that helps protect us all.

Yet as we round this corner out of the COVID-19 pandemic, its’ clear that we must think broadly about how we begin to heal and what we can do to improve our wellness and wellbeing moving forward. We must be inclusive of traditional and non-western medicines as we begin our individual and communal recoveries, and as we heal moving forward.

Be on the lookout for more information from me on this front, and know that I will always work to ensure that everyone who calls this place home has the resources they need to be as healthy and happy as possible.

Keep reading for more on this Fantastic Friday.  

“Stay Safe, Stay Healthy”
Rep. Debra Lekanoff

Caring For Our Oceans For The Next Generation!

Growing up on the Pacific Ocean was a gift from the Creator, as she ensured I knew my responsibility to take care of her, as she took care of us was part of my cultural teachings and laws. Our ancestors would be ashamed of how we have treated our most precious place on Mother Earth.

I often go back to a detrimental message shared from past Quinault President Fawn Sharp.  She shared a heartbreaking morning when she received a knock on the door from her Tribal Fish and Wildlife Officers. What she witnessed broke her heart, as she flew over her homeland beaches that were covered with dead fish, crabs, starfish, weeds, and birds, as she knew these resources were part of her life, culture, and responsibility. 

These are one of many indigenous people’s stories around the World. We must address the health and safety of our oceans, and it will take us all working together. For me, I go back to those moments of running along cool and clean ocean as a little girl, and I remember my sacred responsibility to ensure my grandchildren’s grandchildren will have what was shared with me.

I was honored to receive the invitation to join the UN’s A Safe Ocean event from Co-Chaiir, Burkard Baschek, Director, German Ocean Museum, Stralsund, Germany to participate in the Decade of OceanScience for Sustainable Development.  Our panel on Environmental Justice and Safe Oceans consisted of First Nation Summit Co Chair Ray Harris, Shaqualum, from Chemainus First Nation, and Claudia C. Baron-Aguilar, Ph.D. student, University of South Florida (USF) & Member of the Wayuu indigenous community, Colombia and Ria Sen, Lead Preparedness Officer, Global Emergency Telecommunications Cluster, World Food Programme, Italy.

The United Nations has proclaimed a Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)to support efforts to reverse the cycle of decline in ocean health and gather ocean stakeholders worldwide behind a common framework that will ensure ocean science can fully support countries in creating improved conditions for sustainable development of the Ocean.

The marine realm is the largest component of the Earth’s system that stabilizes climate and support life on Earth and human well-being. However, the First World Ocean Assessment released in 2016 found that much of the ocean is now seriously degraded, with changes and losses in the structure, function and benefits from marine systems.

In addition, the impact of multiple stressors on the ocean is projected to increase as the human population grows towards the expected 9 billion by 2050.

Justice Kentanji Brown Jackson

Yesterday, along with many of you I am sure, I watched with an incredible amount of joy in my heart as Kentanji Brown Jackson was confirmed by the Senate as the newest Justice of the Supreme Court, becoming the first Black woman to serve on our country’s highest judicial body.

Justice Jackson during her confirmation hearing

As I watched the votes come in for Justice Jackson’s eventual confirmation, I was reminded of watching President Obama’s first election. Watching the votes come in to elect our first Black President I was inspired to run for office myself, motivated by seeing someone who looked like me win such a monumental victory.

Now, writing this with the first Black woman confirmed to the Supreme Court, I can only wonder about how many young men and women are watching just the same, and realizing there is no limit to their potential. I cannot wait to see the incredible people inspired by this historic day, and I am excited for Justice Jackson’s continued work on the Court.

Congratulations, Justice Jackson!

40th Annual NAFOA Conference!

This week I had the distinct pleasure of joining the Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA) for their 40th Annual Conference in Seattle! NAFOA launched over three decades ago as the Native American Finance Officers Association to highlight the role of tribal finance in fostering economic opportunities. Since then, NAFOA has grown into a strong partnership of over 135 tribes working together to advocate for fiscal policies that support tribes and provide the resources we need to move forward.

I was also honored to have the chance to speak earlier this week, addressing the conference and speaking to where we must keep our priorities moving forward. In each of our communities we see a consistent truth – our wealth is found in our reach cultural teachings, and we must always remember that those who are in the deepest need come first.

Washington has 29 federally Tribes here span from the plateau to the Tribes on the Salish Sea and out to the Pacific Coast, and Tribes are an ever more important part of the broader Washington State community. Our cultural teachings and laws put us in a place to help our people and we have the governance policies and tools in place to take action quickly.

We spent a few at NAFOA in many discussions focused on building the economic arm of monetary wealth for our tribes, and I was excited to welcome so many incredible Native innovators to our great state of Washington. Together we sat down to address building a broader tax base for our tribal governments as well as by investing in business sectors outside of hospitality and tourism, ensuring that our tribal communities are not reliant on any single industry for economic prosperity.

After several years of virtual conferences, it was such a pleasure to come together with all of these fantastic individuals for a few days. My heart is always lifted when I am surrounded by those who share the same passion for service and support as I do, and hearing from the incredible panelists and speakers left me optimistic and excited for our future.

Thank you to everyone at NAFOA, and all the wonderful speakers and panelists for putting on such a fantastic conference!

Leading the Way on Climate Change Legislation

Starting early next year, an important piece of legislation signed into law by Governor Inslee will go into effect. The Climate Commitment Act (CCA) caps and reduces greenhouse gas emissions from the state’s largest emitting sources and industries, as well as puts environmental justice and equity at the center of climate policy, ensuring that communities that bear the greatest burdens from air pollution today see cleaner, healthier air as the state cuts greenhouse gases.

I want to again thank Governor Inslee for championing this important cause, and for all the work he has done in the past year to set us up for success once the CCA goes into effect on January 1, 2023.

Through collaboration and dedication we will continue to make great strides in protecting our environment. I am confident that we will make our grandchildren’s grandchildren proud with the work we are doing today, and it is with them in mind that we must act moving forward.

Be on the look out for round table discussions with me over the next few months as I continue building out my legislative priorities with your input!

Renaming Public Lands

Back in November, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland signed an order declaring “squaw” a derogatory term and beginning the process of renaming public lands that have used this word for hundreds of years.

Now, the Department of the Interior is asking for public comment on different options for renaming the 18 locations here in Washington State that contain this slur. Comments are open until April 15, and you may submit written comments to the Interior Department at or by mail.

I was thrilled in November to see this strong action taken to remove these stains on our communities. Renaming these sites is an important and necessary step towards reconciling with our past, and we should all be proud of our Department of the Interior for taking this step.

Just as Justice Kentanji Brown Jackson will serve as an inspiration to countless young people in our country, allowing our youth to grow up without the shadow of these sites hanging over them will have an incredible effect on their psyches and livelihoods.

Fire in Friday Harbor

Early yesterday morning a fire broke out in downtown Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, and according to Kimberley M. Kimple with San Juan County Fire Protection District #2 six buildings had suffered damage, three of which were a total loss. The damaged buildings were several local small businesses, including  a tavern, a coffee shop, real estate offices, a wine bar, a kayak tour business, and private offices.

This is an incredible blow ahead of tourism season to the local community, and my heart goes out to the families and small businesses impacted by this terrible fire, and I will do everything I can to support the community as it begins to recover.

Throughout this ordeal, many brave men and women stepped up to fight the fire and prevent further damage. We all owe our firefighters and first responders an incredible thanks – because of them no one was injured, and further damage was prevented.

I always want to give my heartfelt thanks to the ferry workers who worked tirelessly to bring firefighters and firefighting equipment from Orcas and Lopez islands to San Juan Island, as well as the  Sheriff’s office boats that were also used to move fire crews, and the staff from Washington State Ferries who stayed on the island to help deputies provide crowd control at the fire scene.

It’s in times like these that we must step up to support our communities. The Legislature recently invested $75 million for small business disaster response, innovation, and resiliency, and I will do everything in my power to ensure that those small businesses impacted by this fire have access to the funds they need to recover.

Endorsing My Re-election Campaign!

Friends, representing you in Olympia these past four years has been such an incredible honor. I have loved getting to know each and every one of you, and it is always my goal to listen to each of you as we continue working to create a place our grandchildren’s grandchildren will be proud to call home.

It’s with that in mind that I ask you to stand with my campaign – I would love to include your name on my list of endorsements as I run for re-election this year. If you’d like to endorse my campaign, click here – it will only take a minute!

Excited to run to continue as your voice in Olympia!

The 40th LD is an incredible place, and I am proud to have you behind me as I run for re-election to continue as your voice in Olympia.

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