Simpson, Bernie

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Simpson, Bernie

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May 31, 1942 -



Bernie Simpson was born May 31, 1942, the only child of George Simpson and Sarah Nissenbaum. George Simpson and Sarah Nissenbaum separated when Bernie was 5 years old. George Simpson then moved to Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island, and Sarah Nissenbaum stayed with Bernie in Vancouver. Bernie lived most of his childhood with his mother in Vancouver, attending General Wolfe Elementary School, and then King Edward High School. Bernie then attended the University of British Columbia, where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Social Work, and a Bachelor of Law. Bernie married a nurse named Lee Purkin on December 14, 1975. Together they have three children; Annie, Jory, and Samantha. Bernie was the MLA for Vancouver-Fraserview between 1991-1995.

Bernie Simpson is considered to be one of the leading personal injury lawyers in British Columbia. After graduating from the University of British Columbia law school, Bernie Simpson founded Simpson & Company, one of the first Vancouver law firms to restrict practice to automobile accidents. In 2001, Bernie formed a partnership with a well-known personal injury lawyer, Anthony Thomas, and the firm became Simpson, Thomas & Associates. In 2014 Dairn Shane and Stephen Yung also became Partners in the firm.

After establishing his reputation as an ICBC personal injury lawyer and settling thousands of ICBC claims; with the emphasis on catastrophic cases including brain injury cases and quadriplegia and paraplegia, in 1991, he was elected to the British Columbia Legislature for the Constituency of Vancouver-Fraserview. During his term as a Provincial Member of the Legislature he set out to ensure that Bike Helmet Legislation, which would be the most progressive in Canada, was enacted into law. The determination of enacting that Legislation was influenced by a case that he worked on before being elected where a young girl suffered a serious brain injury while riding her bicycle in Surrey without wearing a bike helmet. In order to ensure that the victims of car accidents have the best possible rehabilitation, Bernie has traveled to many parts of the world to setup rehabilitation programs.

Bernie pioneered the use of Structured Settlements in British Columbia which guarantees, for those catastrophically injured, monthly tax free payments for the rest of their lives.

While a Provincial Member of the Legislature, Bernie was a Chairperson of the Select Standing Committee for Finance, Crown Corporations and Government Services of the Legislature. He was also a sitting member of the Select Standing Committee for Economic Development, Science, Labor, Training, and Technology, as well as on the Board of Directors of the B.C. Trade Development Corporation. Additionally, Bernie was assigned by Premier Harcourt to promote trade with the Asia Pacific region, including India and Latin America.

Bernie has also been an active member of the Vancouver business community. He has been a member of the Vancouver Board of Trade, as well as a member of the Hong Kong-Canada Business Association, Canada-Korea Business Association, Canada-Japan Society, and the Canadian Taiwan Trade Association.

Bernie has actively participated in the betterment of the Vancouver community, having served as Chairman of the Canadian Cancer Society for the Vancouver campaign, the Director of the Canadian Cancer Society (B.C. and Yukon Division), the Chairperson for the Louis Brier Home for the Elderly and Hospital Building Campaign, the Director of the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews, Co-Chairman for the Finance Committee for Camp Miriam, and an Executive Member of UNICEF. Additionally, Bernie Chaired the Mayor’s Campaign for Famine Relief led by former Vancouver mayor and premier, Mike Harcourt, between 1984-1985. Bernie was also an active member of: Lawyers for Social Responsibility, Greenpeace, Trial Lawyers Association of B.C., and the Advisory Committee for Canadian Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

For nearly 8 years, Bernie had a weekly radio program in the Indo-Canadian community.

In recognition for his efforts in enacting the Bike Helmet Legislation, Bernie he was awarded the prestigious Eloisa deLorenzo International Award by the International Brain Injury Association in Washington, DC.

In 1984, Bernie was honored by Camp Miriam for his work in fundraising to build a new camp.

In 1985, Bernie was awarded the Red Cross Society Citation for organizing the famine relief campaign in B.C.

In 1986, as a founding member of the Trial Lawyers Association in British Columbia, Bernie honored by Trial Lawyers for his lifelong contribution to the legal profession.

In 1987, Bernie was honored by the Canadian Cancer Society for heading the fund raising and development campaign of an educational program for the multicultural communities of B.C.

In 1988, Bernie was honored by the Indo-Canadian community for the development of an educational program to prevent cancer in the Indo-Canadian community throughout the province of B.C.

In 1990, Bernie was awarded the Order of Canada, Canada’s highest award for volunteerism for his work with various charitable causes and for his activities in the multi-cultural community, particularly the Indo-Canadian and Chinese communities. He also received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, Golden Jubilee Medal, and Commemorative Medal for the 125th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada.

In 1991, Bernie was honored by S.U.C.C.E.S.S. (United Chinese Community Enrichment Services), and made a life member, for the work he had done in the Chinese community.


Vancouver, British Columbia

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Jewish Museum and Archives of British Columbia

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Created April 28, 2015


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