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The Working Life of Christina McKelvie MSP
24th June 2011


This week is Refugee week in Scotland and the theme of the week is courage. What is courage? Is it the ability to be strong in the face of adversity? Is it the need to conquer? Or is it the strength to stand up for your rights or the rights of others? I believe it is all of the latter. I believe that when faced with difficult situations we can find a reserve of strength that carries us through, I believe it is having the strength to conquer fear and I believe its having the strength to stand up for yourself and others when put down or discriminated against.

I hosted the Scottish Refugee Council reception in parliament last night to remember people seeking sanctuary and to celebrate the fantastic contribution to our culture and economy, of those who have chosen to make Scotland their home.

We heard from Ahlam Souidi who had worked with children from Oakgrove primary school junior writers group. They had written a book called 'The Right to Dream' and two of the girls read out their contributions. To say they were inspiring would be an understatement, they talked about a peaceful and kind nation and they expect to make that happen in Scotland. Now that's what I call courage. Watch the video on this link and tell me you don't believe the people in the video have courage.

We also had poetry and music from Carlos Arredondo. Carlos had to flee Chile in the 80's to escape the human rights abuses of the Pinochet government. Carlo has made Scotland his home and he is a great poet but also a lovely singer too. Check Carlos out on He gave me a copy of his book 'From where we, the refugees have come' Its a very powerful read.

Last week i chaired my first Europe and External Relations Committee, I was elected as convener and I am delighted to have this very fine honour. I think the committee will be a force for good and with a focus on policy and not process I am sure we will have a positive impact. Scotland needs to reassert herself in the world and I hope that our committee will have taken some of that forward with joint working and a clear plan for talking up Scotland every opportunity we get.

Thursday night last I was at the AGM and awards ceremony for Hamilton Citizens advice service. Again the stories of courage were very heartening. The group of young men and women who have progressed with their training as advisors were an inspiration to us all. I wish them all well and here is a photos of me with the group after I had presented them with their well deserved certificates.

I also had a wee part in a debate about broadcasting you can watch it here.

Another outing in the parliament was my question to John Swinney about the negative impact of changes to pensions for women who have already have had the goalposts moved on them. You can see that here.

I was at a lovely event in Stonehouse where people got together had a tea party and picnic with the folk band to raise money for the 'Make a Wish foundation' I believe they raised well over 200 a brilliant effort and fantastic music too.

I attended an event at South Lanarkshire council on Monday to remember armed forces day where a flag was raised to the lament of the Piper Davie. It was very poignant and it is right that we remember our armed forces even if we do not agree with the wars they are in.

I had a day in Inverclyde campaigning with Anne Mclaughlin in the by-election. it rained the whole day but it did not dampen our spirits and I believe Anne has a real chance of winning this seat. How good would that be? On the campaign trail we were joined by a very special person not just to me but to the SNP as a whole. Yes we had the formidable and wonderful Dr Winifred Ewing. Winnie was in fine form and she has never lost that campaigning spirit. Her stories are not only inspiring but full of yes you guessed it, courage,. Winnie had the courage to stand for Parliament in 1967, win that seat and take Scotland's fight for freedom to Westminster, Europe and the Scottish parliament. Her first words to me where when can I visit Hamilton. Well Winnie that will be as soon as you want.

See for yourself how good she looks here's a photo.

See you all next week....

Christina McKelvie MSP

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