VICTORIA— B.C. New Democrat Leader John Horgan and B.C. New Democrat children and families spokesperson Melanie Mark issued the following statement on Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond as her term comes to an end as British Columbia’s first Independent Representative for Children and Youth:
“For nearly a decade, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has shone a light on the stories of B.C.’s most vulnerable children. With unflinching determination she has relentlessly pursued policies that would improve the lives of children and youth in the care of the province. A woman of Métis heritage, she never lost sight of how the care system uniquely impacts First Nations, Aboriginal and Métis children and youth, and made their needs and the needs of Aboriginal families and communities a major focus of her work.
“As Independent Representative for Children and Youth she engaged in tireless advocacy and exposed serious problems in the Ministry of Children and Family Development, giving the province’s youth in care a face and a voice demanding change. She never backed down from a fight, even taking the government to court where necessary to gain the documents she needed to protect the lives of children.
“Whether it was the use of hotels instead of supportive care to house youth like Alex Gervais, or the heartbreaking story of Paige Gauthier whose belongings were dropped off in a black garbage bag at her last known school when she aged out, Mary Ellen gave British Columbians a window into the stories of children and youth being failed by the Christy Clark government.
“Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond leaves her position having delivered more than 90 reports and over 200 recommendations on how to fix our care system. As she leaves the position vacant, B.C.’s New Democrats will continue to demand action on recommendations which would both save and improve the lives of children and youth in care.
“Mary Ellen set a standard of independence, fearlessness, and passion as Independent Representative for Children and Youth that will be difficult to match. We’re thankful for her service.”