News

Hon. Melanie Mark

BC NDP

Vancouver-Mount Pleasant

Office:

Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC V8V 1X4

Phone: (250) 387-3655

Fax: (250) 356-4680

Constituency:

1070-1641 Commercial Drive
Vancouver, BC V5L 3Y3

[email protected]

Phone: (604) 660-0707

Fax: (604) 398-3711

Biography

Elected in 2016, HLI HAYKWHL ẂII XSGAAK, 馬蘭妮, Melanie Mark, is the first First Nations woman Member of the Legislative Assembly in British Columbia’s history, representing the riding of Vancouver-Mount Pleasant. During the 41st Parliament, she was appointed as the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training.

Today, Melanie remains the only First Nations woman to have served in cabinet and served as Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. Melanie is Nisga’a, Gitxsan, Cree and Ojibway. She was born and raised in East Vancouver and has deep roots in Northern B.C. and Manitoba.

Melanie is unapologetically passionate about social, environmental and economic justice; and she entered politics to disrupt the status quo. Within two months as Minister, she paved a new path by creating the first provincial tuition waiver program for youth from the foster-care system and removed all fees for adults accessing Adult Basic Education.

She is most proud of her work as Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training to address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, namely supporting Indigenous teachers and language fluency, and in 2018 launching the world’s first Indigenous Law program at the University of Victoria.

Melanie firmly believes that education is the great equalizer and often says, “a rising tide, lifts all canoes.”

Melanie’s work is inspired by her daughters Maya and Makayla and the desire for them to have greater access to education and opportunities as they grow up. Family is very important to Melanie, and her time with Maya, Makayla, and her extended family keeps her grounded and motivated.

Melanie graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Simon Fraser University. She holds a Criminology Diploma from Douglas College/Native Education College and an Advanced Executive Certificate from Queen’s School of Business.

Melanie believes strongly that the changes we need to inspire and support future generations, require all of us to get on board and paddle together.

Where They Stand on Modernizing BC's Wrongful Death Laws

In mid April 2021, MLA Mark wrote a letter to constituent Frank Watts Jr., offering her sympathies regarding the wrongful death of his father Frank Sr. She also discussed modernizing the Family Compensation Act, stating “it has been brought to the attention of Attorney General Eby and that he would be making the issue a priority.”

She met with Frank Watts Jr. in person on April 30th, but it is unclear whether she took any further action on behalf of his father.

MLA Mark resigned her office in February 2023. A replacement MLA for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant has yet to be selected.

How Can This MLA Improve Their Grade?

She has met with constituents on this issue.

Meet with The BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society on this issue.

Write a letter of endorsement for modernization to the Attorney General and Premier.

Please petition MLA Hon. Melanie Mark now »

This individual has scored a C grade with respect to their position on modernizing BC's wrongful death laws. Learn More »

The BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society’s goal is to modernize BC’s wrongful death laws, which unlike other provinces, currently denies justice to the surviving family members of children, seniors, the disabled, or anyone who wasn’t considered a breadwinner with dependents, when killed by the careless or intentional acts of another.

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As Seen In

The following news outlets have featured the issue of BC's antiquated wrongful death laws alongside stories of tragedy countless times for decades, although the provincial government still fails to right this legislative wrong.

What British Columbians Are Saying

The public is unanimously outraged and expressing their views through many channels.

Organizations That Have Endorsed Modernization

The following organizations have endorsed repealing and replacing the 'Family Compensation Act' and replacing it with our Society's drafted 'Wrongful Death Accountability Act' to ensure the full measure of value to British Columbians lives and access to justice with no loopholes for wrongdoers to escape accountability.

Vancouver City Council
Union of BC Municipalities
Lower Mainland Local Government Association

Prominent Figures Who've Endorsed Modernization

The following prominent figures and elected officials have written letters endorsing legislative modernization of BC's wrongful death laws.

Vancouver City Councillor Pete Fry (Green)
MLA Michael DeJong (BC United)
MLA Douglas Routley (NDP)
MLA Andrew Mercier (NDP)

Petition Your MLA Now

Unlike other Canadian provinces, BC has not made any significant amendments to its wrongful death legislation—ever. The current BC Family Compensation Act only values the lives of income-earners. This neglect must stop. Petitioning your local MLA, the Attorney General, and Premier with our automated tool can make a lasting difference to the lives of British Columbians for generations to come.

Dear Local MLA, Attorney General Niki Sharma, Premier David Eby, Minister of Health Adrian Dix, Minister of Public Safety & Solicitor General Mike Farnworth,

I am writing to you about British Columbia’s woefully outdated wrongful death laws; which are still based on colonial-era legislation from 1846.

BC’s current “Family Compensation Act” only takes into account the direct financial losses resulting from the wrongful death of a loved one. As a result, only the families of deceased breadwinners see the inside of a courtroom in cases of wrongful death.

Children, seniors, people with disabilities, or anyone who does not meet the discriminatory criteria of having both an income and dependents are classes of people whose lives are not valued or respected when they are killed in BC.

This is a human rights issue.

Investigations into the wrongful death of these classes of citizens most often do not occur because there is no ‘loss of earnings’ to cover civil trial costs.

Accordingly, families have been denied the ability to right the wrong and ensure that the same preventable actions which resulted in the wrongful death would not happen to another.

Unlike other provinces in Canada, which in most cases have modernized long ago, many of your constituents are considered “worthless” under the discriminatory law in British Columbia.

Their stories are actively being documented and published here – https://intheirname.ca/stories/

The BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society is comprised of families who have been fighting for over two decades to see our laws modernized. They have drafted legislation that can solve this problem now.

These families, based on each individual personal experience of loss, have demanded that the legislation include the following tenets:

#1 The value of human life must not be based merely on whether the wrongfully killed was a breadwinner with dependants. There must be a legal recognition for the value of each life and the loss of love, guidance, care, companionship, and affection wrongfully taken from surviving family members.

#2 The value of human life must not be arbitrarily capped by legislation. Damages for the loss of life must be assessed individually by constitutionally independent superior courts, in recognition of the distinct relationship that existed between each of the surviving family members and the wrongfully killed loved one.

#3 All forms of non-pecuniary damages, including aggravated and punitive damages must be available under the legislation to be awarded in appropriate cases. Financial penalty assessed by a civil court when a wrongdoer maliciously, or recklessly kills another person is essential when criminal prosecution is not pursued or fails. General deterrence of future wrongdoing is an important objective.

#4 If an individual is not initially killed by a wrongful act, but later dies before the conclusion of litigation, this should not be a windfall for the wrongdoer. There should not be a perverse incentive for the wrongdoer to delay, or prolong litigation. Damages relating to conscious pain, suffering, and disability during the period between the wrong and the decedent’s death, including damages for loss of expectation of life, pain and suffering, physical disfigurement, or loss of amenities must remain available under the legislation.

#5 Families deserve the right to have their day in court with the ability to obtain professional legal representation on a contingency basis. No other piece of legislation in the province should bar the pursuit of an at-fault wrongful death claim against a negligent party. The contingency fee system does not discriminate socioeconomically, and it ensures the family can obtain the best representation necessary to obtain truth, justice, and accountability against a wrongdoer, no matter how big and powerful that wrongdoer might be. Families also deserve the right to have the case decided by a jury of their peers. This fundamental aspect of our democracy must be preserved.

What will you do to create a fair and adequate wrongful death law in BC?

Yours Truly,
Your Full Name
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cc: BC United Leader Kevin Falcon, BC United Critic for Attorney General Mike de Jong, BC United Critic for Public Safety & Solicitor General Mike Morris, BC Greens Leader Sonia Furstenau

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