When Melanie Mark delivered her maiden speech in the legislature as the new NDP MLA for Vancouver–Mount Pleasant, she spoke about some of the pioneers in B.C. political history.
She mentioned that Frank Calder was the first MLA of aboriginal descent and that Rosemary Brown was the first black female MLA. Mark also referred to Moe Sihota as the first MLA of South Asian descent, Jenny Kwan as the first of Chinese origin, Mable Elmore as the first of Philippine ancestry, and Jane Shin as the first Korean Canadian in the legislature.
Mark is of Nisga’a, Gitksan, Cree, Ojibwa, French, and Scottish heritage. Her late grandmother and mentor, Thelma Mark, attended St. Michael’s Residential School; the new MLA described that period as “the darkest days of her life”.