Two days before the Elections BC deadline for nomination papers to be filed, the B.C. NDP announced a candidate will run in Kamloops South-Thompson.
A day later, on Thursday morning (Oct. 1), amongst a group of supporters downtown at Prince Charles Park, Anna Thomas was introduced as the candidate.
The 45-year-old North Kamloops resident and member of the Lytton and Peguis First Nations said she would bring her passion for social justice and activism, if elected MLA. Thomas is president of the BC Native Women’s Association and issues about which she is passionate include advocating for Indigenous women and girls, ending violence against women, social housing and mental health.
“It has always been my focus to amplify the voices of those not heard and advocate for our families,” Thomas said during the press conference.
Shelly Johnson, Thompson Rivers University associate professor and Canada Research Chair in indigenizing higher education, described Thomas as a friend and colleague. She said Thomas has worked to mentor others through her work as president of the BC Native Women’s Association.
“Anna is somebody that is probably one of the most ethical, hard-working activists, advocates that I know,” Johnson said.
Thomas said she was asked to run three weeks ago and made her decision on Sept. 27. The NDP called a snap election about a week-and-a-half ago and named its Kamloops North-Thompson candidate, city councillor Sadie Hunter, on Sept. 28.
“I took the time I needed to talk to community members and the NDP party,” Thomas said.
Thomas joins a Kamloops South-Thompson race that includes BC Green candidate Dan Hines and BC Liberal candidate and incumbent MLA Todd Stone.
Thomas took a small jab at the Liberals during her speech to media and supporters on Thursday, noting she has seen “what happens when people are left behind by the B.C. Liberals.”
She touted the NDP government of the day for investing in social housing, eliminating MSP premiums and for listening to health experts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Still, the Kamloops-area ridings are home to a B.C. Liberal stronghold.
Asked what she will do to defeat the competition, Thomas replied: “I am the person. I’m an advocate. I do the work that needs to [be done]. I’m not going to leave anybody behind. Everybody is important. Everybody’s voice needs to be heard and I am that person for the NDP South-Thompson.”
Visibly emotional at times during Thursday’s event, Thomas said she wears her heart on her sleeve, noting “what you see is what you get.”
“I’m not a political person that you can just fit in a square box and say, ‘Wear this and wear that,’” she said before laughing and alluding to her brightly coloured clothing. “You might kind of tell. I like flashy. I enjoy custom-made jewelry and helping community. I’ve been known in the community and across the country to help people.”
Thomas is married with two children and also has a background in banking and as a Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society board member.