Mary Thomas is among many people who will talk about their experiences with racism in the Tribune/Weekend Advisor's feature pages appearing over the next few months in support of the Canadian Mental Health Association Cariboo Chilcotin Branch's Dirty Laundry campaign to raise awareness about how racism hurts individuals and society as a whole.

Mary Thomas is among many people who will talk about their experiences with racism in the Tribune/Weekend Advisor's feature pages appearing over the next few months in support of the Canadian Mental Health Association Cariboo Chilcotin Branch's Dirty Laundry campaign to raise awareness about how racism hurts individuals and society as a whole.

Mary Thomas: I needed advocacy

“Over the years I had become numb to racism against me – "

“Over the years I had become numb to racism against me – one time I was at the Greyhound getting a ticket for the bus and the sales clerk treated me with disdain in her words, her tone and her actions while doing up my ticket.

“My partner advocated for me and addressed the racist actions made by the sales clerk.

“Then my advocate asked me, ‘Did you notice that the sales clerk was being racist toward you.’

“I felt so dejected and depressed knowing that and I just became numb to racism against me.

“I have become more observant now and learned to address the issue of racism against me or anyone else, as I have become an advocate against racism.”

Mary’s numbness did not interfere with her ability to lead a very full and successful life.  Despite the underlying obstacles of racism Mary moved forward and is an accomplished dancer, author, public speaker, mother, grandmother and forever an advocate.

Mary Thomas is of Secwepemc ancestry.  She is one of 10 children born to Rita (Frank) and Jim Charley from Canim Lake, B.C.

Canim Lake is one of 17 nations within the Secwepemc nation in the interior of British Columbia.

Mary spent part of her upbringing in the St. Joseph’s Mission and Prince George College.  She was able to spend some time on the Canim Lake reserve with her people at Christmas time and during the summer.

In her last year at Prince George Mary transferred to 100 Mile House Junior Secondary School and graduated high school.

Mary has her Bachelor of Science degree which was attained at the College University of Buckinghamshire in the UK.

Since then Mary has fine-tuned her skills at TRU, Justice Institute of BC, Francis Xavier University and Nicola Valley Institute of Technology.

Through the years she has also served on many committees and boards in the Cariboo Chilcotin, as well as, assisted in the start up of a Friendship Centre in 100 Mile House.

Mary is proud of her Secwepemc heritage and firmly believes in sharing her culture, values, and customs with others wherever she may travel.

Some destinations have been to North Island of New Zealand to share with the Maori people throughout the region and England to co-author a book, Caribou Factory with renowned artist/writer Helen Hawley.

Mary is also almost ready to publish her own book Aboriginal Rights and Healing Go Hand in Hand.

Mary has three sons and one daughter who are all grown and on their own.  Mary has 18 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Being ‘close’ to retirement, Mary has settled at Sugarcane, Williams Lake.

Mary presently works at the Cariboo Friendship Society in the Aboriginal Wellness Program and is on her second term on the Board with the South Cariboo Community Planning Council and is a Board member for the All Nations Arts Society in the Cariboo Chilcotin.