Margaret Anne Mitchell, a social activist who pioneered community development in Vancouver, was a courageous feminist Member of Parliament from 1979 to 1993. Her book, No Laughing Matter, is a testament to the struggles and achievements of women MPs, and chronicles her life’s adventures and work.
A graduate of the University of Toronto School of Social Work Margaret worked for the International Red Cross for several years. In 1953 during the Korean War she served in Japan and Korea. In 1957 she worked with Hungarian refugees in Vienna, Austria. She married Australian Claude Mitchell in Vienna before eventually settling in Vancouver. After surviving cancer, Margaret pioneered community development, helping people to organize and improve life in city’s neighbourhoods.
As an NDP Member of Parliament, from 1979 – 1993 constituents were her primary concern. Margaret inspired generations of women with her public stand against wife-beating and with her vocal support for woman’s equality. She spent 14 years in the House of Commons advocating for affordable housing, multiculturalism, the right of poor people, and redress for the Chinese Head Tax. She also played a critical role in ensuring that women were recognized in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Margaret was recognized in 2000 as a Member of the Order of British Columbia. She established the Margaret Mitchell Fund for Women at Vancity Community Foundation to provide scholarship and self help programs for women.