Still in love 41 years later

Mike Morris, a retired RCMP officer, and the third youngest of 10 children, was born in Quesnel in 1953. By the time he graduated from high school, he had attended 12 different schools and lived in 17 different homes.

His first jobs during the last two summers in high school were in the forest industry. After high school, he worked underground in the mining town of Lynn Lake, Man. A local RCMP officer encouraged Mike to join the RCMP so he applied and successfully wrote the entrance exam.

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His first posting was Prince George in 1973 and then on to Vancouver. Mike said, "I was not a city type of guy so I was glad after six months to be sent back to Prince George to finish up some pending cases.

"My next posting was McBride until I was transferred on a day's notice to Fort St. James where I met my lovely wife Chris in 1976. We were married in Hawaii two years later. I worked in Fort St. James for five years and loved it because of the people we met and the outdoor opportunities. We go back there often on our holidays.

"I was posted back to Prince George in 1981 and we started our family of two boys."

In 1989, Mike was posted to New Aiyansh, New Hazelton in 1991 and Fraser Lake in 1992.

In 1993, he was posted to Calgary where he received his commission to inspector and became the human resources officer in southern Alberta. In 1996, he transferred back to Prince George as the operations officer for the North District and was promoted to the district officers' position in 1998 until retiring in 2005 with 32 years of service.

After leaving the RCMP, he was offered different opportunities. In 2008, he accepted a position as an adjudicator and mediator with the Health Professions Review Board, a board tasked with adjudicating disputed decisions of B.C.'s professional health colleges.

From 2010-2013, he also served on the Drug Benefit Council for B.C., an independent advisory body that makes evidence-informed recommendations to the Ministry of Health about the listing of drugs for the PharmaCare program.

Mike said, "I was the only board member at the time that didn't have Dr. in front of my name. We reviewed hundreds of pages of research results each month, pharmacoeconomic business cases and many other elements. My experience on this council indicated to me that B.C. has a very robust system with many qualified people on the council."

Mike was elected MLA in the 2013 provincial election to represent the electoral district of Prince George-Mackenzie as a member of the B.C. Liberal Party. He was re-elected in 2017.

He served as Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

Mike has also been the chair of the Special Committee to Review the Independent Investigations Office, the convener of the Select Standing Committee of Crown Corporations and he has served on other select standing committees including finance and government services and public accounts, along with the cabinet committee for environment and land use.

Today, Mike uses his extensive knowledge from his prior experience as an RCMP Officer and a cabinet minister in a critic role on Public Safety and Solicitor General for the opposition. He has also been appointed to the Select Standing Committee on Parliamentary Reform, Ethical Conduct, Standing Orders and Private Bills and the Special Committee to Appoint a Conflict of Interest Commissioner.

Mike said, "I have collectively spent over 30 of the last 45 years in Prince George and spent the majority of my RCMP career in northern communities. It was never on my bucket list to venture into politics but here I am. None of the above would have been possible without my wife Chris and her total support behind me."

He met Chris Birkeland when he was 26 years old. Chris is the youngest of five children and was born at the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster. The family moved around a fair bit and ended up in Telkwa when she was in Grade 3. After high school, Chris attended the College of New Caledonia in Prince George and studied to be a Licensed Practical Nurse.

On the advice of a classmate, she applied for and was accepted for a nursing position in Fort St James. Her life was about to change when she met and then married Mike.

Chris said, "We started out in a tiny apartment with a camp cot and a small dining room table. None of that mattered because we were in love. That was 41 years ago and yes, we are still in love."

Chris took advantage of every transfer to work at various health facilities - Prince George Regional Hospital (now UHNBC), the Nisgh'a Health Clinic in New Aiyansh north of Terrace, Wrinch Memorial Hospital in New Hazelton, High River hospital in Alberta and UHNBC, as well as a few stints working in various doctors' offices.

She says "I have worked as an LPN since 1975 and I am getting ready to retire."

Mike explained, "The nature of my work caused me to be away from home on many occasions and Chris stood behind me through it all. She was a good mom and held down the fort in my absence. I could not have done it without her. She worked in her profession and kept everything running smoothly around the home. I saw a lot of misery and pain on a regular basis in my job so it was nice to come home to a smiling wife and a happy environment.

"I am a past president of the B.C. Trappers Association and have owned a registered trapline since the early '80s. Chris often accompanied me on the trapline over the years helping in pelt preparation and keeping trails open.

"When I decided that I wanted to be a beekeeper she supported me on that project as well. When I went into politics, she bought her own beekeeper's suit and took a deep interest in bee keeping, probably one of her best hobbies to date. She calls them her girls and along with the assistance of some great neighbours, does a good job looking after them. What can I say - she is truly an amazing woman.

"When I left the RCMP, we had the option to relocate any where in Canada. We talked about it and saw no reason to leave Prince George. I didn't plan on it but I got into politics and hope I've made a contribution in making our province a little bit better for the folks who live here. We built our lives here and British Columbia is a great place to live. I love Prince George and British Columbia and I want what is best for all British Columbians."

Mike and Chris have two sons; Matt (Heather) and Dan (Michelle) who in turn gave them five grandchildren and who they claim are perfect in every way. Their sons both live in Prince George and they are both RCMP officers.

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