Exhibit highlighting Okanagan women launches in Kelowna

Exhibit highlighting Okanagan women launches in Kelowna

The Empowered Project celebrates leaders and change-makers

An exhibit showcasing women from all around the Okanagan has launched.

The Empowered Project celebrates women, their achievements, and the progression of democracy in the context of women’s rights.

That’s according to artist Ana Eries Luyben, who painted the portraits in the exhibit and unveiled them all on Friday (Mar. 6). She said the project took nine months, from finding the women to reaching out to them and finally painting their portraits.

“I wanted to find women who were leading lives that were bold and that were in a leadership position, and leadership in terms of their own lives, not necessarily just in a socio-economic level but even just trauma survivors,” she said.

“Their stories mean a lot to me, and I wanted to shine a light on them.”

Michele Johnson, a Syilx language teacher, is one of the women Luyben painted and featured. Johnson is helping to revitalize Syilx and has been teaching the language in Penticton and area for eleven years. Four months ago, she brought the beginner’s language program to the Westbank First Nation for the first time.

Johnson said it was an honour for her work to be recognized.

“It feels really validating… it’s such a surprise. I can’t even really speak to how it feels because it’s such a surprise to walk in and see my portrait,” she said.

Johnson said the four-month course will end soon, but her students have asked to move on to the next level soon.

“It feels good for me and my people to be acknowledged, along with the work we do with promoting kindness, love and inclusivity.”

The community has the chance to participate in the project throughout the spring, by drawing a self-portrait or a portrait of someone who inspires and empowers them. The drawings will then be collected at the end of the season and put into a collage canvas. Luyben said the plan is to have the finished collage out by the end of the summer.

The project’s proceeds will also go towards supporting the Central Okanagan Elizabeth Fry Society’s trauma counselling services.

Luyben said she chose to support Elizabeth Fry because she felt that her project and the society ultimately share the same goal: empowering women.

“I thought that supporting Elizabeth Fry was just a harmonious way to bring the art community and social change together. I wanted to support them and they wanted to support me, and that I think already speaks to empowerment in such a big way.”

READ MORE: Syilx language program comes to West Kelowna

READ MORE: Salmon Arm celebrates International Women’s Day


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
Follow me on Twitter

First Nations womenwomen entrepreneurswomen in businesswomen in politics

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

Just Posted

Highway 5 southbound lanes are closed near Exit 286. Pictured are southbound lanes at 7:06 p.m. (DriveBC)
Coquihalla Highway southbound lanes closed due to vehicle incident

Southbound lanes closed between Exit 286: Merritt and the start of Hwy 5

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
UPDATE: Garage on Lakeshore Road burns to the ground, blaze deemed suspicious

Fire crews responded to the scene just after 4:30 p.m.

An empty learning space at Kelowna’s Canyon Falls Middle School prior to the school’s opening in fall 2019. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
COVID-19 case confirmed at Canyon Falls Middle School

This is the first case of COVID-19 being reported at Canyon Falls Middle School

Kelowna City Hall. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna council allocates $8M provincial COVID-19 grant

$5.4 million will be applied to the city’s preliminary 2021 budget

In this handout photo provided by the Philippine Red Cross, families stay at a temporary evacuation center at Catanduanes province, eastern Philippines, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020, as Typhoon Goni hits the country. Families living near coastal towns have moved to evacuation centers as the strong typhoon makes landfall. (Philippine Red Cross via AP)
Okanagan community group organizes fundraiser for typhoon-hit Philippines

Over two million people have been affected by flooding, with about 500,000 forced to leave homes

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

(Pixabay.com)
Man, 28, warned by Kootenay police to stop asking people to marry him

A woman initially reported the incident to police before they discovered others had been popped the question

Winston Blackmore (left) and James Oler (right) were sentenced on separate charges of polygamy this week in Cranbrook Supreme Court.
No more charges expected in Bountiful investigation, special prosecutor says

Special prosecutor says mandate has ended following review of evidence from Bountiful investigations

(Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older

(Ty Hainsworth / Facebook)
No injuries after fire rips through South Okanagan fruit stand

A fruit stand caught fire Tuesday afternoon, closing Highway 97 for two hours

Damien Smith, with father Thomas Smith, is “frozen” with joy as he watches a special message Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds recorded for Damien’s 9th birthday on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. (Contributed)
Shuswap boy celebrates 9th birthday with family, community and Ryan Reynolds

People from around the world send birthday cards showing young Canoe resident he’s not alone

A major reconstruction project on 32nd Avenue is nearing completion and the road is now re-opened to traffic between 33rd Street and 35th Street. (City of Vernon photo)
ROAD REPORT: More roundabouts coming to North Okanagan

New intersection lights up Dec. 13, 30th Street paving delayed, PV Road completed in Vernon

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Ty Hainsworth / Facebook)
Highway 97 now clear following structure fire near Oliver

A fruit stand caught fire Tuesday afternoon

Most Read