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'This place felt like a torture chamber': Melanie Mark stepping down from B.C. legislature

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Melanie Mark, an Indigenous member of the British Columbia legislature and two-time cabinet minister, is stepping down as MLA for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant, she announced in the legislature Wednesday.

The former tourism minister, who resigned from cabinet and took a medical leave in September, cited personal and systemic reasons in her decision to leave provincial politics on Wednesday.

"This place felt like a torture chamber," she said while holding an eagle feather during a special address to the legislature. "I will not miss the character assassination."

Mark, whose legislature biography describes her as "the first First Nations woman Member of the Legislative Assembly in British Columbia's history," was first elected in a byelection in 2016.

Before assuming the tourism portfolio, Mark served as minister of advanced education, skills and training.

She also helped launch the world's first Indigenous Law Program at the University of Victoria in 2018.

"In many ways I have done what I came here to do, but it's also a fact that institutions fundamentally resist change," Mark told her legislature colleagues.

"They are allergic to doing things differently, particularly colonial institutions like this legislative assembly and government at large."

Mark's resignation sets the stage for a second byelection in 2023, after former premier John Horgan announced he would step down as MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca in March.

"Every memory I have of working with Melanie is a treasured one and I'm so grateful to have been her colleague," Premier David Eby said following Mark's address in the legislature.

Mark disclosed that she was recently diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and she also spoke candidly about her family members' prior struggles with drugs and alcohol.

"Never say never, but for now my canoe is heading in a different direction," she said. "I am not quitting. If anything I am standing up for myself."

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