Anna Thomas is the first Indigenous woman to run in the Kamloops-South Thompson riding. She says she comes from a long line of matriarchs and wants to serve community through her work.
Thomas, a candidate for the NDP, is Nlaka’pamux and Cree, is from Lytton First Nations and Peguis First Nation. Before entering the world of politics, she worked as a banker for many years for the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC).
In 2018, she became the president of the BC Women’s Association, and later that year she took on the role of Vice President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC).
“I wasn’t personally fulfilled from the work,” Thomas tells IndigiNews about a decade working with RBC. “I’ve always had a passion to serve community, to serve people, and to uplift.”
‘My grandma was a matriarch’
As the oldest sibling in her family, Thomas says she’s always felt like “it was her duty” to care for others.
“I’m also the oldest granddaughter,” Thomas adds. “I come from a family of mostly women. My grandma was a matriarch.”
Thomas grew up around her mother and grandmother, women who were “always being of service,” she says. But, she says, she didn’t just learn how to care for others, she learned resilience and strength.
“My grandmas didn’t do what they did or go through what they went through for me to be weak or, you know, to crumble.”
Thomas says she wants to lead by example, not only for her nieces and nephews but for all Indigenous youth. Thomas remembers when her family struggled when they went hungry and were cramped in a small apartment.
“Now look, I’m that one running for MLA,” she says.
‘Ready for change’
Thomas is the first Indigenous female candidate to run in the Kamloops-South Thompson riding, which she says makes her “proud and honoured.”
Beyond this election, Thomas wants more Indigenous Peoples to get involved in politics.
“We need to be right there when they’re developing policy,” she says, echoing a sentiment by other Indigenous candidates. “We need to be a part of the conversation.”
Thomas says her biggest challenge to date has been the funding required for running a campaign. She’s running for NDP in a region that has more of a Liberal stronghold.
“I feel like if anybody was to change this riding, I feel like I can do it,” she says. “I feel like I got an army with me,” she adds, referring to her ancestors, who she feels guide her work.
Advance polling for the B.C. election opened on October 15 and ends Oct. 21. Election day is on October 24th. Thomas will be with her family over the weekend.
She hopes people get out and “exercise their democratic right to put the right people in place to lead the province forward in a good way.”.
Thomas recognizes that not all Indigenous Peoples agree with entering Canada’s political system, but she just sees it as “different ways to fight the good fight.”
“Because I choose to fight the good fight this way and you choose to fight it another way, we are no better than each other,” she says… “We are people wanting better todays and tomorrows. Keep up all the goodness friends and family.”