Melanie Mark, the first First Nations woman to serve in the BC legislature, tearfully announces her resignation

Melanie Mark, MLA for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant since 2016, has resigned.  (Ben Nelms/CBC - photo credit)

Melanie Mark, MLA for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant since 2016, has resigned. (Ben Nelms/CBC – photo credit)

Melanie Mark, the first First Nations woman to serve in the British Columbia Legislature and as a cabinet minister, has resigned.

Mark, MLA for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant, held an eagle feather and wore her grandfather’s beaded elk leather coat. Mark, MLA for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant, broke down in tears and took no offense at her experience in provincial politics, Legislature and government at large.”

“This place felt like a torture chamber,” she said. “I won’t miss the character assassination.”

Speaking to reporters after the speech, Mark described the opposition as “absolutely awful”.

“The meanness of the white men in here is terrible,” she said. “I’ve endured enough abuse in my life.”

“People called me a bitch,” she said. “You can call me anything, but never call me a stupid bitch. I’m educated, I’ve worked hard for my career all my life, I have all the credentials, I deserve to be here.”

CLOCK | Melanie Mark announces her resignation:

Mark said she was recently diagnosed with ADHD, short for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is a common neurological disorder that is often misdiagnosed in girls and can lead to mental health problems in adulthood.

“I’m interpreted as someone crazy and angry,” she said.

“The challenge is a neurological disorder. And my brain is brilliant. I have a superpower.”

Mark – with ancestry from Nisga’a, Gitxsan, Cree and Ojibway – was first elected in 2016 and served as Minister for Advanced Education, Skills and Training and then Minister for Tourism until September 2022, when she resigned from the portfolio due to sick leave. to focus on urgent and urgent personal matters.”

In her speech to the legislature, Mark called for less partisanship and emphasized the importance of education, noting that she was the first member of her family to graduate from college.

Discussing growing up in the Skeena projects in East Vancouver and her parents both living with alcohol and drug addictions, she referenced generational scars and trauma left by Indian residential homes and the care system.

Mark said she will continue to use her “big mouth” to speak for those who have been silenced.

CLOCK | Melanie Mark speaks to reporters after her announcement:

“I’ve been a public advocate for 27 years and I will continue to advocate and fight outside of this House … to speak up for the voiceless and for those who don’t vote,” she said.

She thanked the many supporters and family members present in the stands for her speech, including her two daughters and her mother.

She said she plans to spend more time with her children and to support her daughter in her sporting activities.

“Enough tribal children have lived without their parents and I will not do that,” she said.

Mark said she will make her retirement official by the end of next month. An NDP spokesman said a date for a by-election has not yet been set.

“Hard to be in these rooms”

Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, who served as Nunavut MP from 2019 to 2021, says Mark’s situation reminds her of what she went through while working in government.

“When I see things like that it just reminds me of all the things that are wrong with the country and it’s still something that really eats me up all the time,” she said.

“When I see people who are strong enough to say no and step back, it’s not for me. All I can say is hats off because it’s really hard to be in these spaces.”

She said the history of the Indian Act has made it difficult for people like her and Mark not only to thrive, but to survive in politics and in life.

“Canada wrote a very different set of rules for itself, a very different set of rules for me, a very different set of rules for tribal peoples,” Qaqqaq said.

“I think of all the indigenous politicians who were in the national eye at some point, they were all extremely disappointed.”

parties react

Prime Minister David Eby said Mark brought her life experience to the legislature and made sure it was part of her work on behalf of the people of BC

“She changed this place,” he said. “She changed this province.”

Chad Hipolito / The Canadian Press

Chad Hipolito / The Canadian Press

Leader of the opposition Liberal Parliament, Todd Stone, said Mark was a trailblazer who paved the way for more Indigenous peoples in the legislature.

“She’s someone who has always brought that passion to her work,” he said.

Green Party House leader Adam Olsen, who is Indigenous, said Mark has made the legislature a more welcoming place for all people.

“Today I’m sad that we are down a paddle in our community,” he said.


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