Anne Marie Sam (BC NDP photo)

Anne Marie Sam (BC NDP photo)

NDP candidate battled cancer this spring

Ann Marie Sam says she’s more than ever committed to running for office

Election campaigns can be brutal on a candidate and, at times, the candidate’s family.

But Nechako Lakes NDP candidate Anne Marie Sam faced an even tougher battle this spring — cancer.

A mammogram in March revealed she had breast cancer, the diagnosis coming just as the COVID-19 pandemic was declared.

“When that happens it changes everything,” Sam, 47, said last week in recounting the events of the spring.

In Victoria where she was working, Sam said she quickly had to focus on herself and her health and for what would come next.

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown meant she faced surgery without the support in person of her family.

“The lockdown … that was an extra challenge,” said Sam.

But the surgery was successful and was followed by chemotherapy and radiation with Sam being declared cancer-free as the spring turned into early summer.

Despite it all, Sam said she was determined to pursue the NDP candidacy for the Nechako Lakes riding.

“I knew I could do it. I had a lot of support from the party and the leader, John Horgan. I had made a commitment. This was something I knew I could do,” she said.

Sam added that like many people, she was caught offguard by the election call.

“I had been expecting it next year, next October,” Sam said of the agreement between the NDP and the Green party in which both had committed to keeping the legislature working until then.

This will be Sam’s second bid for elected provincial office. She also ran against BC Liberal incumbent John Rustad in the 2017 provincial election, placing second with Rustad taking a clear majority of 52 per cent of the vote.

Although defeated in that election, Sam, in one sense, followed Rustad’s footsteps in Victoria. That’s because Rustad was the BC Liberal for aboriginal relations and reconciliation minister from 2013 to 2017. When the NDP replaced the BC Liberals in government, Sam then took a job as the senior ministerial assistant in the renamed indigenous relations and reconciliation ministry.

Now on leave from that job, Sam said the three years she spent in that ministry have given her invaluable experience in not only the inner workings of how the government operates when it comes to deciding policy but through travel connected to her work, the experiences and situations indigenous people face within the province.

“I got to meet a lot of people,” said Sam as she worked on issues such as placing the the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples within the context of provincial government legislation.

She was also surprised, in travels through the region particularly, by how many people knew her parents and her grandparents.

“It really is a small world,” she added.

Sam’s first experiences with elected office date back to a term as a school trustee in her home area of Fort St. James and as a councillor for several terms with her home Nak’azdli band.

Raising a family of three children during the same period, Sam said matters such as child care availability and education challenges within the north brought forward by others heightened her sense of community issues.

And that connection to communities within the area heightened in the 2000s through the increased presence of large industrial projects in the north.

“There was concern that a lot of things weren’t being brought up such as impacts on communities, the need to preserve and protect our values — and not just with indigenous communities, but all of the communities,” said Sam. “I thought that this was something that was needed.”

It wasn’t until Sam took a phone call from Carole James, a senior NDP Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), in 2017 that she began thinking about provincial political office and how her school trustee and band council experience could be further reflected.

First elected in 2005, a former leader of the provincial NDP and with a spouse from Burns Lake, James spoke knowledgeably about the north and what it would take to run provincially.

“She really encouraged me,” said Sam of James who noted that more women were needed in the provincial legislature. “She talked about the impact on your family, the travelling, what an MLA can contribute.”

It set the foundation for the 2017 election and now this one with Sam saying she’s more than ever committed to the riding and to its people.

BC politicsElection 2020

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lake Babine Nation closure sign
Lake Babine Nation issues COVID numbers update

Urges members to follow provincial health orders

NH representative confirmed that people who received their first dose will be scheduled to receive their second dose within the recommended timeframe.(The Canadian Press/Nathan Denette photo)
Vaccine rollout abruptly halted in Lakes District

Northern Health cites Pfizer shipment delays for the vaccine distribution disruption

This BC Hydro map shows some of the power outages across Northern BC. Many were caused by high winds. (BC Hydro Website)
Power out across much of Northern BC

BC Hydro anticipates some may be without power overnight

Administering naloxone to a person experiencing a benzo-related overdose event won’t help. Naloxone is used to neutralize opioids. (Jenna Hauck/The Progress file photo)
Northern Health warning drug users of potential benzo contamination

The drug does not respond to naloxone, and is being included in street drugs

The B.C. Government increased limited entry hunt (LEH) authorizations of cow/calf moose by 43 animals in 2020 in mountain caribou recovery areas near Revelstoke and Prince George. (Wikipedia Commons)
Cow moose and calf harvest numbers expected by May

No wolves culled yet; cull scheduled for 2021 winter

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
1-in-5 COVID tests coming back positive in and around Fernie, sparking concern

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Throughout December, RCMP conducted CounterAttack road checks as police worked to keep roads free of impaired drivers. (BLACK PRESS file photo)
‘You can’t make this stuff up’: Stories from the B.C. CounterAttack campaign

Amusing, yes, but a reminder impaired driving affects ability to drive and to make good decisions

(Thesendboys/Instagram)
Video of man doing backflip off Vancouver bridge draws police condemnation

Group says in Instagram story that they ‘don’t do it for the clout’

Most Read