February 23, 2023
UBCIC Honours Melanie Mark and Calls on BC to Address ‘Torture Chamber’ Conditions in Government
(xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil Waututh)/Vancouver, B.C. – February 23, 2023) The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) is honoured to support Hli Haykwhl Ẃii Xsgaak, Melanie Mark, and calls on Premier Eby and the provincial government to investigate the disgraceful and disgusting racist and sexist harassment she faced while in the B.C. legislature.
Yesterday, MLA Melanie Mark announced in the legislature that she would be moving on from her position with the provincial government after 7 years of advocacy. Her impassioned speech raised concerns from Indigenous peoples across B.C. as she spoke about the harms and colonial violence she experienced while serving her constituency. This afternoon, UBCIC invited Melanie Mark to the UBCIC Chiefs Council meeting taking place at Musqueam and held a blanketing and brushing off ceremony for her. The ceremony was intended to bring strength and protection to Melanie in light of her experiences.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, UBCIC President, stated “Melanie is part of our family. I remember the day she was drummed into the legislature and there was such joy. We are all so proud of Melanie for bringing her presence and what she represents into the B.C. Parliament, which we all know is the bastion of colonialism. Everywhere you look are the faces of harsh legislators who were gleefully implementing the laws of colonialism and taking away our land; Melanie had to go there every day. The harassment and bullying that Melanie was forced to endure in the legislature cannot be the benchmark and is a stark reminder of the need for implementation of the Calls to Action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Calls for Justice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.”
“Melanie is a pioneer as the first First Nations woman to serve as MLA and in the BC cabinet,” stated Chief Don Tom, UBCIC Vice-President. “She is a fierce and courageous advocate for women, children, and mother earth. We echo Melanie’s sentiments that colonial institutions are resistant to change, and applaud her for changing the institution by standing up for herself and standing strong for Indigenous peoples. Her eagle feathers brought medicine to those government institutions that are in dire need of it. Under her leadership, Indigenous students can learn Indigenous law in Western law institutions; former youth in care can access post-secondary education for free, and they can learn their languages in those institutions. This is reconciliation and decolonization. We are always going to remember Melanie and be grateful that she is the person who went through those doors.”
Newly elected UBCIC Secretary-Treasurer Marilyn Slett, shared “In our house of culture, the cedar brushing helps brush away any negative energies, so you don’t carry that around. When we blanket you, it is to blanket you with strength and to protect you. I want to thank Melanie Mark for always telling it how it is. Her tears are strength and courage, and it is healthy to let them out. I want to thank her for her integrity and work and allowing us to stand with her and support her. This is supposed to be a time of reconciliation, and as we implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, there is an urgent need to ensure First Nations women feel safe and welcomed in the legislature.”
Thank you, Melanie Mark, for your years of service, sacrifice, advocacy, and the results under your leadership. UBCIC is grateful to you for shining your light on the systemic problems in government and doing your absolute best to fix those problems; your light shines bright, and we always welcome you with love and support.
Read Melanie Mark's Statement to the Legislative Assembly on February 22, 2023.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President, 250-490-5314
Chief Don Tom, Vice-President, 604-290-6083
Chief Marilyn Slett, Secretary-Treasurer, 250-957-7721
UBCIC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
For more information, please visit www.ubcic.bc.ca