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PM Justin Trudeau meets seniors, fans at Kamloops community centre

For his last public stop in Kamloops on his two-day (maybe closer to 1.5 days) trip to Kamloops, the prime minister stopped by the Centre for Seniors Information (CSI).

The centre in Brocklehurst was packed with staff, volunteers, family and friends to listen to a short speech by Justin Trudeau, followed by individual conversations with the country's leader.

"How we support our seniors is extraordinarily important. I know this centre here at CSI has benefited tremendously from the New Horizons program," he told the crowd. "It's great for me to hear directly from people. That's really one of the most important things about serving as prime minister, is connecting people. That's why I'm pleased here today, to meet all of you."

He then went to tables with groups of five or six to meet with people, field questions and (often) take photos. After about an hour he wrapped up the event, waved goodbye and left the centre. He has a second town hall event tonight in Regina.

Locals who got to meet Trudeau during the event were happy to have the chance to speak to him.

Brenda Prevost, CSI's executive director, says it's important to make sure seniors' issues aren't left out of the national conversation.

"The thing that's really great about him coming to a space like this is that seniors often don't get the opportunity to connect with the higher level of government," she says. "So for our senior population to have the opportunity to directly ask questions of the prime minister, to see that he's easy to talk to or that he genuinely cares about their concerns is an incredible opportunity for them."

Topics raised to Trudeau were broad, including the current pipeline debate, the economy, taxes, homelessness and LBGTQ issues. A Star Wars scarf was even a topic.

Penny Gabriel brought up issues with the Canada Revenue Agency.

"He said he was interested in that and he sent his associate to get my name," she tells KamloopsMatters. "I think there will be something coming. It's not like talking to a wall."

For one local it wasn't the first time she shook the hand of a Prime Minister Trudeau, but it was her first time meeting Justin.

"I shook his father's hand, and now I got to shake his hand. So that's two prime ministers, both Trudeaus," Diane McCarthy, a volunteer at the centre, says. "I just explained I shook his father's hand and he said, 'Oh, did you?' And I said, 'Yeah!'"

A group involved with the Kamloops Homeless Mat Project were also on hand to speak with the PM and give him an example of their work.

Lucas Beauchamp, 11, was the one to give him the gift (though he was more excited to get the time out of school).

"The gift is a mini mat that we made," he says. "It's made for the homeless and we want to show him what we're doing."

He adds that while Trudeau isn't very popular at his school, it was exciting to meet him.

Terri Story, also with the homeless mat-making group, says it was essential to her the prime minister hear about the volunteers on the ground making a difference.

"I think it's important he knows not only about the money that's being put in but the volunteers behind the scenes who are working to try and help," she says. "There's a lot of volunteers in a lot of areas that help."

After dozens of conversations and more photos, Trudeau waved goodbye to the group, though immediately outside he took photos with more locals.

Prevost says attendees were excited when they found out who was attending the event, and is glad it came to fruition.

"I'm very happy for our senior population that we could do this for them."


Brendan Kergin

About the Author: Brendan Kergin

Brendan Kergin is a digital reporter based in Kamloops.
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