Fran Helland and the late Bev Maldidier were the first women elected to municipal council in Ashcroft.
South Cariboo has always been a conservative region, both in politics and social values. But women have run for public office here, and have been elected and have served the communities in this part of the province of B.C. for a couple of generations.
Who can forget the immortal Ma Murray of Lillooet? I interviewed Ma in 1990 after she’d retired from the Bridge River-Lillooet News. It was her 90th birthday, and as we talked, telephone calls came in from all parts of Canada, including a conversation with the Prime Minister. Ma took it all in her stride. Outspoken, and as natural as the mountain landscape around her, Ma reflected more about the equality of the genders than any woman. She was a pleasure to interview, and a delight to know. And I’ll never forget the lunch hours with Ma in Lillooet, eating those fried bacon ends she loved.
Donna Barnett of 100 Mile is another significant political entity who has served the communities of the Cariboo for many years. But I think Ashcroft may be one of the foremost communities to recognize the importance of women in politics. The new council in Ashcroft will be a standout, I am sure.
I can’t help mentioning again the fantastic job the board of the HUB is doing in managing and maintaining the former elementary school. Every part of the building is being used. Yes, it is a formidable challenge to deal with its maintenance and the costs involved. But in my view, if any people can do it, it is the group of women who’ve managed to give our community so much. Yes, volunteers have been essential to the development of the facility, and will continue to be needed for some time.
And I can’t help mentioning the incredible, giving volunteer work that women and men in the community have provided at Soup’s On. Making soup early mornings, providing buns, fruits, veggies, desserts, beverages, all laid out and presented with good cheer.
I guess, in summary, I just wanted to say how wonderful the people of this community are. We’re an old-fashioned kind of neighbourhood: a community that cares about its people. I’m just so grateful to be where I am.