Elected in 2016, HLI HAYKWHL ẂII XSGAAK, 馬蘭妮| Melanie Mark, is the first First Nations woman member of the legislative assembly (MLA) in British Columbia's history, representing the riding of Vancouver Mount Pleasant. In 2017, she was appointed as the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. Today, Melanie remains the only First Nations woman to serve in BC’s Cabinet. Melanie is Nisga’a, Gitxsan, Cree and Ojibway. She was born and raised in East Van, 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 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. Along with her children, Melanie is supported by her husband, Cassidy Kannemeyer, head coach of the men’s basketball team at Capilano University. Family is very important to Melanie and her time with Maya, Makayla, Cassidy 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.