A man who once lived on the streets of Prince George is now running for city council, to advocate for solutions to help other people escape the cycle of homeless and make a better life here.
University Hospital of Northern B.C. (UHNBC) Drummers co-founder Wesley Mitchell announced his candidacy for city council during an event on the steps of city hall Monday, surrounded by roughly 70 supporters.
“My path to Prince George has been long and tough. In 1986 I arrived in Prince George, and I haven’t looked back,” Mitchell said. “I have lived on the streets myself. I can relate to many of the people downtown…. I will be a voice for all people.”
Mitchell said he will unveil his full campaign platform on Aug. 30, but said addressing the city’s downtown social issues and improving safety for downtown businesses, working to reduce homelessness and advocating for working-class Prince George residents will be his top priorities.
“I want to make Prince George a better place to live, work and play,” Mitchell said. “I will work my ass off to help the business community, the Indigenous community.. and the blue collars. The people who work each and every day for us to have what we have today. I want to be that ambassador, be part of that team that has solutions.”
Mitchell and Ivan Paquette co-founded the UHNBC Drummers in 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. For 47 consecutive days, the group performed traditional songs of healing outside the hospital to show their support for the health care workers combatting the pandemic and continues to perform on a weekly basis.
Mitchell was born in Smithers, with an Indigenous father and mother of Dutch ancestry. He struggled with addiction, and made multiple attempts to get sober, before finally kicking his drug and alcohol addictions in 2017.
He said he loves Prince George, because this city gave him a second chance to live a better life.
“I want to give back even more.”