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Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond Leaves Extraordinary Legacy

Inclusion BC applauds the outgoing Representative for Children and Youth, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, for her remarkable legacy of highlighting issues of child, youth and family vulnerability in our Province, and asks: How will we collectively honour and advance this important work?

October 26, 2016

New Westminster, BC- As the outgoing Representative for Children and Youth, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, leaves office, Inclusion BC joins many others in thanking her for a decade of extraordinary leadership, courage and commitment.

She has permanently changed our Province’s policy landscape, providing a strong, unflinching voice on behalf of vulnerable children, youth and families whose humanity is too often lost at the tables where key decisions are made.

Ms. Turpel-Lafond reminded British Columbians that every child and youth has the right to be healthy, safe, educated, and to be heard; and that too many children, youth and their families are still being left behind in our Province.

Her important accomplishments included expanding her mandate to support vulnerable youth transitioning to adulthood, including youth in care and youth with special needs. She highlighted key challenges, such as failures to support children with complex special needs in residential care and foster care, abuse of restraints and seclusion in schools and the need for more proactive supports to help families struggling to support children with complex needs at home.

Her advocacy supported and inspired the many British Columbians working at all levels to build a more supportive and inclusive society, a movement that encompasses the work of Inclusion BC, our members, and the many families and community advocates committed to meaningful inclusion of people with developmental disabilities, children with special needs and their families.  Turpel-Lafond also partnered to raise awareness of key issues such as the chronic lack of supports for students with special needs in public schools.

The role of the Representative for Children and Youth is critical and proactive, emphasizing that all children and youth are potentially vulnerable and deserve our respect, protection and supports based on their unique individual circumstances.

“Mary Ellen’s work highlighted many uncomfortable truths about how we fail too many children and youth in BC,” said Inclusion BC Executive Director Faith Bodnar. “She never shied away from bringing the difficult issues forward and as a staunch advocate, she brought much-needed action as well as awareness.”

Looking ahead at the importance of continuing this work, Bodnar stressed the urgency of appointing a permanent replacement to succeed Turpel-Lafond without delay. “We always need people like Mary Ellen to make us face injustice and the harsh human impacts of system failures,” she said.

Inclusion BC and its members extend our profound gratitude and wish Ms. Turpel-Lafond every success in her life’s next chapter.


For 61 years Inclusion BC and our federation has led the shift from institutions to full, inclusive lives in the community. We promote ability, build awareness and advance rights. Our collective work and leadership continues to build more inclusive communities, address barriers to full citizenship and shape progressive policy and programs. 

For more information, contact:
Faith Bodnar 
Executive Director of Inclusion BC 
604.777.9100 Ext. 516 
604-764-2591 cell 

Dawn Steele
Director of Communications
604.777.9100 x. 510 (office)

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