Margaret Mitchell (1925 - 2017)
Margaret Mitchell was the Member of Parliament for Vancouver East from 1979 to 1993, a dedicated women’s right advocate, and a recipient of the Order of British Columbia in 2000. As one of the first Canadian politicians to address domestic abuse in the House of Commons, Mitchell gained national attention in 1982, when she stood in the House to highlight that 1 in 10 Canadian women experience abuse. Her words were not met with support, but laughter. Hailed as a “watershed moment that awoke the consciousness of Canada,” Mitchell pressed on, insisting that “this was no laughing matter”.
- In the 1960s, she began her career in public service at the Neighbourhood Services Association in Vancouver, where Mitchell worked to ensure social services were available in all communities.
- In 1979, she was elected as the MP for the riding of Vancouver East as a member of the NDP and served as the NDP critic for Immigration and Housing, Status of Women, and Multiculturalism and Citizenship. In her time in office, Mitchell advocated for both a national childcare program and the decriminalization of abortion.
- She became a strong ally for Chinese-Canadians and initiated a campaign in Ottawa for a national redress of the Chinese head tax.
- In 1980, Mitchell voted against a bill, which would institute a pay raise for MPs. Despite her dissent, the bill passed, however rather than collect the increased salary, Mitchell used the excess funds to start the Margaret Mitchell Fund for Women. Her fund continues to support programs and initiatives that promote economic and social justice for women today.
- Mitchell earned her Masters in Social Work from McMaster University and the University of Toronto, which she used to benefit the lives of others through community development.