Ridge Meadows South Asian Cultural Society gala draws VIPs

Annual event a fundraiser for Youth Wellness Centre

Canada's Minister of Defence stopped in at Ridge Meadows South Asian Cultural Society gala Saturday at senior's centre. Pitt Meadows Coun. Janice Elkerton

Canada's Minister of Defence stopped in at Ridge Meadows South Asian Cultural Society gala Saturday at senior's centre. Pitt Meadows Coun. Janice Elkerton

Saturday’s Ridge Meadows South Asian Cultural Society gala was glitzier than usual, as federal politicians dropped into the annual event, among them, Canada’s Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan.

He is just back from Washington, having met the senior the level of the new administration under U.S. President Donald Trump.

“It was very positive,” Sajjan said. “I think it demonstrated the importance of good Canada-U.S. relations.”

Sajjan met his counterpart, U.S. Defence Secretary and former Marine general Jim Mattis.

He was the first minister to meet his counterpart under the new U.S. government.

“It was nice to see the senior level knew how important our relationship is.”

Both Sajjan and Mattis served in Afghanistan but not at the same time.

Mattis is from Washington state so he knows the area, Sajjan pointed out.

The Canada-U.S. relationship has been built since the First World War, he added. “Our relationship is important and both sides of the border understand that.”

Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge MP Dan Ruimy invited Sajjan and several other federal Liberals. Ruimy said he’s continuing to try to draw attention to the area.

The gala held at the Maple Ridge Seniors Activity Centre was a fundraiser for the Youth Wellness Centre in Maple Ridge that helps kids with mental illness. Ruimy’s constituency youth council is also holding a discussion on that on April 25.

Last week, the federal standing committee on human resources, skills and social development stopped in Maple Ridge so it could hear from locals on developing a poverty reduction plan. Mayor Nicole Read told MPs about housing and homelessness in Maple Ridge.

The MPs then toured the temporary homeless shelter in Maple Ridge and the new 3030 Gordon shelter in Coquitlam.

A report and recommendations based on what MPs heard from touring the country will be ready this year. “Once we finish our report, we’ll be able to make recommendations,” Ruimy said.