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Cloverdale woman hopes to change B.C.’s 177-year-old wrongful death law

Almost 15 years after the death of her father, Rita McDonnell is still looking to change the law
Almost 15 years after the death of her father, Cloverdale’s Rita McDonnell (right) can be seen along side her daughter (left) presenting a speech at the Mothers for Justice Memorial Walk, continuing to fight towards changing the wrongful death legislation in B.C. (Rita McDonnell/Contributed to Black Press Media)

Cloverdale’s Rita McDonnell is continuing to fight towards changing the wrongful death legislation in B.C., almost 15 years after her father died.

On May 13, the second annual Mother for Justice Memorial Walk took place, with hopes that B.C. would modernize its 177-year-old law.

“The walk went well,” McDonnell said. “We’re going to have a zoom meeting about the effects of the walk, but I’m just hoping that people will understand what’s really happening. Unfortunately, a lot of B.C. residents don’t unless it happens to them.”

McDonnell’s father, Gary Davis, was a retired postal worker. He was 68 when he died in 2009, after developing bedsores and hospital infections in a long-term care facility in Langley. He had initially been hospitalized due to an aneurysm in his groin.

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She said that Premier David Eby claimed he’d love to talk to the families being affected, but has yet to do so.

“He pretty much became the head honcho and still hasn’t changed anything.”

McDonnell is a founding member of the B.C. Wrongful Death Law Reform Society. The society consists of volunteer staff, with each member experiencing a wrongful death in the family.

According to the B.C. Wrongful Death Law Reform Society, B.C. is the last remaining province in Canada to modernize its wrongful death legislation. With this, the campaign is hoping to provide a modern standard of human value, dignity and protection under the law.

The walk, which was organized by “in their name,” a non-profit campaign of the society, saw about 100 people attend, and wanted to spread a very important message.

“We just want help. We just want change. We want people to realize that it can happen to you too,” McDonnell said.

The walk was rounded off with a speech presented by McDonnell and her daughter.

“We are ‘in their name’ and growing because the government is not listening. We are Mothers, Fathers, Sons, Daughters, brothers, sister, partners, we are B.C. families listen to us and change it,” she said, to a crowd at the walk.