The New Democratic Party coasted to a landslide of a victory in Vancouver-Mount Pleasant’s byelection on Tuesday night, making its candidate, Melanie Mark, the first aboriginal woman elected to the B.C. legislature.
Mark easily won with 5,353 votes, worth 60 per cent of the voting, while Green Party candidate Pete Fry finished second, with 2,325 votes, worth 26 per cent.
Mark, who is part Nisga’a, Gitxsan, Cree, and Ojibway, grew up in social housing in East Vancouver and has many roots attached to it and the Mount Pleasant neighbourhoods with a history of being an activist, youth worker, volunteer and coordinator.
“I don’t come from money or privilege, but I’m very fortunate,” Mark recently wrote in an article special to The Georgia Straight.
Mark adds her experiences volunteering and advocating have helped her to take on leadership roles in the community.
“I’m just really glad to see another aboriginal candidate win,” said Keith Henry, president of the BC Métis Federation, in a phone interview. “I think it’s excellent that it’s been achieved.”
Henry added going forward it’s important to keep addressing aboriginal issues in B.C..
“We need more professional aboriginal or indigenous people running for MLA positions so we can make sure our desires and hopes for our communities aren’t lost,” he said.
In Mark’s Georgia Straight post, she professes her readiness to be a strong voice for the residents in Vancouver-Mount Pleasant as well as the need for leadership and respect for indigenous people in the B.C. legislature.
Henry said there’s been a lot of conflict with the aboriginal and indigenous communities, with a lot of their concerns, such as child and family adoption, “falling on deaf ears” in government.
“We’re excited we have another aboriginal candidate we can go to,” he said.