Today, I’m writing from my home in Nipissing First Nation surrounded by my partner, her girls and my boys.  We spent the morning at Weight Watchers, having breakfast, shopping for books and renting a couple of moviesToday is also the day of the Great Village Scavenger Hunt, as our family scours Garden Village in search of creative clues, Easter eggs and their Easter treats.

As we go through our weekend routine, I’ve been thinking about the importance of family to the Anishinaabe people.

Our Elders are among our most important members of our community.  We go to them for their wisdom, experience and counsel.  They carry our community history and traditional knowledge.  Many carry our traditional teachings and are our Spiritual leaders.  When they fall sick, it’s one of our most important values to look after them.

More than ever, we are having to take care of sick, infirm and elderly Loved ones.  Often, we have to use our vacation time, extended unpaid leaves of absence or quit our jobs in order to do this important work.

As part of their election platform, the Liberal party has committed to creating a new Family Care plan where you would be able to take a paid leave of absence to look after our Elders.  It would be just like taking parental leave, with similar benefits and qualifying provisions.  Just like our parents took care of us when we were babies, a Liberal government would allow us the opportunity to take care of our parents when the time comes.  This is truly in keeping with our First Nation’s values.

There are many of us dealing with family members living with dementia and Alzheimer’s.  My mom is living with early symptoms and requires ongoing care by my brother Junior and his partner Kat.  It’s been a time of great concern for us in the past five years.

The Liberals have committed to developing a Canadian Brain Health Strategy, which includes exploring new income security measures to ensure that families are not pushed into poverty as they deal with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

There’s no better investment than ensuring the health and well-being of families and our Elders.  This far ourweighs the need for billions of dollars for jet fighters and American-style mega-prisons.