Fraser-Nicola NDP candidate Aaron Sumexheltza. (Photo credit: Submitted)

Fraser-Nicola NDP candidate Aaron Sumexheltza. (Photo credit: Submitted)

Lawyer, former chief named as NDP candidate in Fraser-Nicola

Aaron Sumexheltza wins provincial NDP nomination on second attempt

Aaron Sumexheltza first dipped his toe into the waters of provincial politics in 2016, when he unsuccessfully challenged Harry Lali for the NDP nomination in Fraser-Nicola. Now, almost four years later, he has been acclaimed (not without controversy) as the NDP’s candidate in the riding, and says he is ready whenever an election is called.

READ MORE: Controversy in Fraser-Nicola riding as NDP names their candidate

“My job right now is to begin working as the NDP candidate,” he says. “The next election is scheduled for fall 2021, but if it’s earlier my team and I will be ready.”

Sumexheltza (pronounced Shoo-muh-hetsa) is a practising lawyer with his own practice; he is also a part-time lawyer for the Nicola Valley Indigenous Justice Centre. He ran as Aaron Sam in 2016, but has since changed to an ancestral surname, which is that of an ancestor who was a chief at Pukaist, between Ashcroft and Spences Bridge, more than 130 years ago. His grandmother is from that area, and he says he has family and friends all over the riding.

“I was chief for six years in my community [Lower Nicola Band], and live in Merritt with my wife and son. I care passionately for the people who live in this riding, its natural beauty, and the way of life. I also feel that with my background as a lawyer and former community leader, and my track record and experience relating to business, I have a lot to offer, and that’s the reason I’m running. If I’m elected as MLA I want to make a difference for people and families who live all across the riding.”

He says that while he does not claim to be an expert on issues in all other parts of riding, he is committed to visiting communities like Ashcroft and Cache Creek to listen to people.

“One of the best ways to be an effective leader is to listen to the people and hear what their concerns are. Only then I can go to Victoria and be an effective MLA for everyone in the riding.”

He acknowledges that while we are in the midst of a pandemic, he hopes that at some point in the future we will be moving on from that. “A lot of people are suffering now, and it’s really important that we support businesses and opportunities where we can create employment for people. I support moving ahead with major infrastructure projects so that people in our communities can benefit from that work.”

When he was Chief of the Lower Nicola Band in 2016 (he is currently a councillor), a solar farm was installed on their community school. “At the time it was the largest community solar project in the province. I give credit to the current chief and other councillors for continuing with those sorts of initiatives.

“We recently got more funding to continue solar projects, and I’m really proud of the fact that we’re continuing along in that way. In Merritt, in Ashcroft and Cache Creek, there’s a lot of sun, and it’s great that we can utilize the natural energy of the sun to power our buildings and communities.”

He says that he is proud of the work that Premier John Horgan’s government has done on managing the COVID-19 crisis. “I believe that, especially where we have a lot of people worried about their health and future, we need to continue investing in health care and make sure we do that in small and rural communities, not just the urban centres.”

Sumexheltza was acclaimed as the NDP candidate in Fraser-Nicola on Sept. 10, and says that since then he has received texts, phone messages, and emails from people across the riding expressing their support and excitement for the fact that he’s running.

“I’ve been building a team and know that I can solidify that team. I’m doing everything I can and working hard to build some excitement in the riding. Hopefully I can build trust with constituents and be the next MLA in Fraser-Nicola.”

Campaigning in a pandemic is something he has talked about with his team. “The safety of the people is the most important thing. I anticipate there will be a lot less personal one-on-one engagement, so we’ll be looking at other ways to campaign. That will include phone calls, social media, other ways. It’s something new, but the health and safety of those in the riding is the most important thing.”

While Fraser-Nicola is widely seen as a “swing” riding, Sumexheltza says he doesn’t feel any pressure. “I feel I need to work hard and engage with people in the communities. I believe I’m the best candidate to work with John Horgan and make a real difference for people.”



editorial@accjournal.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

BC NDP

Just Posted

North Okanagan business Hytec Kohler set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Spallumcheen plant Friday, May 14. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
More than half of eligible adults in Interior Health vaccinated

Over 365,000 vaccine doses have been administered throughout the Interior Health region

Doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine are seen being prepared on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Decatur, Ga. Hundreds of children, ages 12 to 15, received the Pfizer vaccine at the DeKalb Pediatric Center, just days after it was approved for use within their age group. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
One death, 60 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The death is connected to the outbreak at Spring Valley long-term care in Kelowna

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
One death, 39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 484 active cases of the virus in the region currently

Kelly Servinski, of the Tutti Hotel in Clinton, climbs above the river. (Photo credit: http://www.sterlinglorence.com/)
Gravel is the new gold: Cyclist bumps new biking trend

There’s gravel in them thar hills around Clinton

Amy Newman follows the route of the Cariboo Waggon Road — now Highway 97 — through Clinton. (Photo credit: New Pathways to Gold Society)
Grant received for Cariboo Waggon Road restoration project north of Clinton

New Pathways to Gold hopes to start work this summer on restoring sections of historic road

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Chilliwack’s Kile Brown, performing as drag queen Hailey Adler, dances and lip syncs in front of hundreds of people during the inaugural Chilliwack Pride Barbecue at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre on Aug. 24, 2019. Monday, May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of May 16 to 22

International Day Against Homophobia, Talk Like Yoda Day, Sea Monkey Day all coming up this week

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial sex-offender acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)
Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

Steven Shearer, <em>Untitled. </em>(Dennis Ha/Courtesy of Steven Shearer)
Vancouver photographer’s billboards taken down after complaints about being ‘disturbing’

‘Context is everything’ when it comes to understanding these images, says visual art professor Catherine Heard

Trina Hunt's remains were found in the Hope area on March 29. Her family is asking the public to think back to the weekend prior to when she went missing. (Photo courtesy of IHIT.)
Cousin of missing woman found in Hope says she won’t have closure until death is solved

Trina Hunt’s family urges Hope residents to check dashcam, photos to help find her killer

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Restrictions will lift once 75% of Canadians get 1 shot and 20% are fully immunized, feds say

Federal health officials are laying out their vision of what life could look like after most Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19

Police are at Ecole Mount Prevost Elementary but the students have been evacuated. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Gardener finds buried explosives, sparking evacuation of Cowichan school

Students removed from school in an ‘abundance of caution’

Most Read