One of the new murals being created at the Cariboo Friendship Centre pays tribute to four pioneers among women in leadership.

One of the new murals being created at the Cariboo Friendship Centre pays tribute to four women who have passed on but were strong community leaders who led by example.

The murals are being painted by the Friendship Centre’s Choices youth group under direction of lakecity artist and muralist Dwayne Davis.

The portraits of the women were being painted appropriately around International Women’s Day March 8 and were selected by the Choices group, says executive director Rosanna McGregor.

The mural honours Augusta Evans, Chiwid, Marg Ahdemar, and Liz Robertson.

“The four women have significance for all of us,” McGregor says. “They were strong women in our communities and positive role models.”

Augusta Evans is recognized for her contributions to First Nations people in a book titled The Days of Augusta by Jean E. Speare and in a 16-minute National Film Board documentary.

Among her accomplishments, Evans wrote poetry and prose, served as midwife to many women and lobbied for many years for the reinstatement of First Nations women who lost their status when they married non-aboriginal men. McGregor says Evans also bought a medical guide from Simpson Sears and as a typical granny used the information she found in it to help people whenever she could.

Ahdemar served 19 years as the Cariboo Friendship Centre’s executive director and tragically lost a hard-fought battle with cancer last summer.

McGregor says Ahdemar made many contributions to community life in her role as executive director, all the while celebrating family and raising her own children and some grandchildren as well.

Robertson was one of the founding members of the Cariboo Friendship Centre and one of the first instructors with the Native Indian Teacher’s Education Program  (NITEP) offered by the University of British Columbia.

McGregor says Robertson is the only person to be granted a lifetime membership in the Cariboo Friendship Centre Society.

The life of Chiwid is documented in the book Chiwid by Sage Birchwater.

The hardships she endured are in part the inspiration for the Cariboo Friendship Society establishing a transition house in her name for women who have been abused.

Last year the Choices young adult group called themselves SWOT — Strong Women of Tomorrow because it was entirely comprised of women.

Among their achievements, last year’s group painted a mural in the entrance of the Cariboo Friendship Centre.

There are two men in the Choices group this year so they have chosen the new name, SWAG or Strength Within All Generations, to represent their group which is painting murals in the Hearth Restaurant and entrance to the Hearth.

Choices members Anthony Williams, Tasheena David, Juanita Keener, Felicity Tuck, Lance William, and Fallon William are attending the 10th annual Gathering Our Voices 2012 Aboriginal Youth Conference this week in Nanaimo.

The event is hosted by the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres and the Tillicum Lelum Aboriginal Friendship Centre. This year’s theme is A Generation on the Move.

Aboriginal Youth aged 14-24 are participating in workshops on health, language, culture, the environment, employment, education, sports and recreation.

The conference also includes cultural, sports and recreational activities, evening entertainment and an interactive career and education fair.