Kelli Paddon, signing her name on screen in centre, is sworn in as the Chilliwack-Kent MLA by Premier John Horgan on Nov. 24, 2020. (Screenshot)

Chilliwack-Kent MLA Kelli Paddon celebrates a number of historic firsts ahead of caucus resuming

Paddon is the first woman elected as Chilliwack-Kent MLA

Attending Victoria virtually, Kelli Paddon was officially sworn in as Chilliwack-Kent MLA while Premier John Horgan and Clerk of the Legislature Katy Ryan-Lloyd witnessed from the floor of Parliament in a quiet, video-heavy ceremony.

Paddon, along with 56 new B.C. NDP legislators, including Chilliwack’s Dan Coulter, officially pledge allegiance to the Queen on Tuesday, Nov. 24.

“I’m grateful and humbled to have the opportunity to represent my community in Victoria,” Paddon said in a statement. “I will be a strong voice for the region, collaborating on the shared issues of housing affordability, child care and education so everyone can get ahead. Recent months have posed severe challenges but I’m confident that our government’s strong plan is the way forward.”

RELATED: Coulter and Paddon sworn in as newly minted MLAs for Chilliwack, Chilliwack-Kent

B.C.’s 42nd Parliament marks a number of historic milestones, including – as Paddon highlighted in a tweet on Nov. 24 – a majority-women caucus with 29 women. Paddon said not only is this a first for B.C. but a first in Canadian history.

Other milestones for the upcoming legislature includes being the caucus with the highest number of Indigenous, Black and people of colour MLAs in B.C. history.

Prior to her taking office, Paddon served in a number of positions dedicated to supporting families and those in the community living sector. Her previous positions included community support worker, youth employment councillor and government relations for Community Living B.C., a Crown agency dedicated to helping those with developmental disabilities.

Paddon’s passion for helping those with disabilities came into play shortly before she was sworn in when she spoke out against Chilliwack School Board trustee Barry Neufeld.

Neufeld, whose career as an elected official has been riddled with discord and inflammatory rants, recently came under fire for using a slur harmful to those living with developmental disabilities to express displeasure with three journalists at the Chilliwack Progress. The rant has since been deleted, but not before the offensive ableist slur was replaced with a different insult twice.

RELATED: NDP’s Kelli Paddon is the new MLA for Chilliwack-Kent after mail-in ballot count

Paddon’s rebuke of Neufeld marked one of her first public statements as MLA.

”These insulting and harmful remarks have no place in our politics,” Paddon said in a statement released shortly after the remarks came to light. “All parties should denounce Barry Neufeld’s extreme and offensive beliefs. I hope the BC Liberals will be clear with British Columbians about whether they accepted his membership application. They should show that Barry Neufeld and his beliefs have no place in their party.”

B.C. Minister of Education Rob Fleming issued his own comments decrying Neufeld’s rant, saying “It’s time for him to step down.”

Paddon also dedicated time to volunteering in the community for local groups that support youth and victims of crime. She has a passion for creating an inclusive, diverse community where everyone is accepted and respected, and she is committed to amplifying the voices of those she serves.

Paddon lives in Chilliwack with her husband and their two children.

Parliament resumes on Dec. 7.

– With files from Jessica Peters

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