Last Fantastic Friday we celebrated Veterans Day!
We are all so grateful to those who have served, and if you haven’t already I would encourage each and every person reading this to reach out to a loved one or someone close to you who has served to say thank you. It is because of their work and continued dedication that we enjoy the lives that we do.
Today, I’d like to share a little bit of information about a veteran’s event I attended with the Anacortes Port last Friday.
I was thrilled to join the Port of Anacortes for their annual Veterans Day event – and I was particularly excited to return to an in-person event after two years of virtual celebration! It was an incredible event with hundreds of local veterans coming out.
The future of the Port of Anacortes is looking great, and as I enter my third term in Olympia I am excited to continue to support their effort to expand and improve their facilities, including their upcoming dock project, and the potential of electrifying the entire port.
Last week was truly and incredible event, and it is always a pleasure working with the Port Commissioners, and everyone at the Port of Anacortes! I want to thank the incredible organizers at the Port of Anacortes for their great work and tireless commitment to improving this place we call home.
Keep reading for more on this Fantastic Friday.
“Stay Safe, Stay Healthy”
Rep. Debra Lekanoff
2022 Midterm Election Recap
Last Tuesday was election day! So many great candidates were on the ballot, and across the country we saw Democrats outperform expectations. It is a good time to be a Washingtonian, and I am thrilled to represent you once again in Olympia!
Over the last four years I have had the honor to represent our 40th Legislative District. Together we have accomplished great things, from securing jobs to expanding education to preserving the Salish Sea to making sure that Native people no longer go missing.
It is a privilege to represent this place that we all call home, and I am thankful to be able to continue our work together in Olympia for another term. My commitment to you stands strong to fight for the rights for everyone in the 40th and across our great state.
Last week I provided an update on the candidates that we have been discussing this campaign – check out our full rundown from last week here!
As always, I am blessed and grateful to have your support, and I’m ready to get back to work.
Protecting the Indian Child Welfare Act
Friends, I want to take a moment at the top today to talk about an incredibly important case currently before the Supreme Court that held oral arguments last week.
The Justices heard arguments about the constitutionality of portions of the Indian Child Welfare Act, known as ICWA, which established minimum federal standards for removing Native children from their homes, requiring preference to be given to a Native child’s extended family, and other members of their tribe, when they are removed from their family.
More than 40 years ago, Congress enacted the legislation after finding that public and private agencies had removed a third of all Native children from their homes, placing them in institutions or homes with no ties to tribal nations.
We must do everything we can to protect ICWA, and to protect our Native children. Maintaining this connection, even as children are removed from their families, is so important, and it is a pillar of modern sovereignty that we cannot afford to lose.
While the Supreme Court Justices decide on the case, we are taking action here in Washington. I am working closely with our tribes, and with Representative Drew Hansen, to draft legislation that will protect the core tenets of ICWA here in Washington, regardless of how the Supreme Court case goes.
I will always stand up for our tribes, and above all will work to help our children, and their children to follow, Native or not. This is an important part of being Native in today’s world, and we must do everything we can to keep our Native children in our tribal communities.
Keep an eye out for additional updates as the Supreme Court decides on this historic case, and as Representative Hansen and I continue working on our legislation.
Continuing Work to Protect Indigenous Women
As we have talked about these past months, More than four in five Native women will experience violence in their lifetimes and are murdered at more than ten times the national average, and it’s plain to see that this is an issue that we need to address.
I’m proud to have led the way on creating an alert system to help identify and locate Missing and Murdered Indigenous People that will save lives and bring our loved ones home. The special alert system has been in operation these past few months.
Now, as we have seen this system implemented here in Washington and a similar system put in place in California, we must look to the future. I’m excited to continue working with law enforcement and public officials to ensure that this system works efficiently to bring our Native brothers and sisters home.
This week, I had the pleasure of speaking to the Olympia Chapter of Zonta International, an organization that has worked to empower women worldwide through service and advocacy for more than 100 years, about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
It was a pleasure speaking to this incredible group, and I look forward to working together more in the future. We have come such a long way in my lifetime, and I cannot wait to see how far we can move forward as we continue to empower women around the world.
NW Energy Coalition Fall Conference
This week, I spoke on a panel for the Northwest Energy Coalition called “Smart Energy Siting and Replacing Lower Snake River Hydropower.” It was an incredible discussion with Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee Vice-Chairman Shannon Wheeler, moderated by Nancy Hirsch, the Executive Director of the NW Energy Coalition.
Developing new energy resources is imperative specifically so that we can protect environmental, species, and cultural resources. In the past, energy development ignored Native rights secured through legally binding treaties and other commitments. Now as we develop energy in the form of wind and solar energy, we are at once developing climate resilience, species restoration, and cultural protection.
This is a vital conversation, and it’s important that we make room at our kitchen tables for all invested stakeholders. We must move forward with a clean vision for our energy in the future, but that path must be walked side by side with Washington’s tribal nations. I’ll always pull a chair out at my table for all who want to sit down and help us build the best Washington we can.
Thank you to the NW Energy Coalition for having me this week, and thank you for all the great work you do! The NW Energy Coalition is an alliance of over 100 environmental, civic, and human service organizations, utilities, and businesses in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and British Columbia, plus many individual members.
For more information about them and their work, click here.
Protect Your Family This Holiday Season!
With the holidays coming up, many of us are set to start traveling to see our loved ones – for their sake and yours, make sure you are safe! The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a new COVID-19 booster shot that will is currently available – the Moderna booster for those who are 18 and older, and the Pfizer-BioNTech booster for those 12 and older.
Individuals who completed their most recent round of COVID-19 vaccination at least two months ago are eligible for these new boosters.
These new shots target both the original strain of COVID-19, as well as the omicron variants that make up most current cases in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) signed off on these new shots as well.
Getting vaccinated remains the most effective way of protecting yourself and those around you from COVID-19, and it is important that we continue to do our part to keep our communities safe. If you are able, I would highly recommend you get vaccinated with the new vaccine.
Doing your part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 remains important, and I am so grateful for the continued efforts we are all making to protect one another. For more information on where you can find a vaccine, click here.
Washington Water Utilities Council
The Washington Water Utilities Council (WWUC) is the state association of 190 Washington water utilities including cities and towns, water districts, public utility districts, mutual and cooperative water utilities, and investor-owned water utilities.
The water systems owned and operated by WWUC members provide drinking water to over 80 percent of the state’s population. They gather each year with counterparts in Oregon and Idaho to hear about and discuss current issues such as water rights, conservation, PFAS, water planning and more.
It was my pleasure to speak during their Tri-State Meeting yesterday, and I was grateful they provided an opportunity to share a tribal perspective on water – how water utilities intersect with tribal interests and what must be kept in mind as we address these important issues.
Thank you to everyone at the Washington Water Utilities Council, and to all the great panelists and attendees at yesterday’s meeting! I look forward to working alongside you as my third term in Olympia gets underway.
For more informationa bout the Washington Waters Utilities Council, click here.