Well, we’ve been busy!
Art Supplies: We’ve shipped new and gently used art supplies to 16 schools so far in 2022, and since 2013 we've shipped to well over 100 schools.
Remote communities are not like the communities you're familiar with. Quite often they are isolated and with limited resources. Communications can be challenging, especially after pandemic lockdowns have taken their toll on staff and students alike.
The Teachers: People who work on the reserves are unique and often work under tremendous strain. They are so much more than teachers: they are nutritionists, crisis workers, suicide prevention support, community care support, taxis, listeners, fixers, and so much more. Wearing so many hats can take a toll and there is often very high staff turnover. This doesn’t apply to every community, but it does apply to many.
Being able to offer free shipments of art supplies takes some of the pressure off teachers to purchase program supplies out of pocket. It also helps to connect schools that need support with people who want to support them. Art is an essential tool to help improve mental health and provide an outlet for boredom and isolation, this has been truly recognized throughout the Covid pandemic. Remote communities are all too familiar with isolation.
Our new digs: Last year Art for Aid finally moved out of the basement of our home (yesss!!) and into its own operations space at 50 Bennett Street, Unit 3 in Carleton Place, ON. Drop off donations of new and gently used art supplies by appointment. It’s located conveniently 1 block off Highway #7. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a drop off. (Please refer to the website to determine what we need at this time. We are not accepting books. We try to maximize our shipping budget and send only art supplies to the schools. Note: The Sew & Sew Skills Lab program is owned and managed by I Love First Peoples. Donations of sewing supplies must go through their organization and not through Art for Aid. Please contact them if you are hoping to donate sewing materials.
A New Program:
Kidz On The Land: Land-based learning program support is a new venture for Art for Aid as of 2021.
First Recipient - Manitoba:
Several years ago we reached out to the Kistiganwacheeng Elementary School, Garden Hill, Manitoba and spoke with one of their amazing teachers to ask how we could help. The conversation came around to the land-based learning program that Educator, Ivan Harper runs at the school. He spoke to me about how many kids have to be turned away from the winter portion of the program because they show up in running shoes or light boots. Many don’t have sufficient boots for standing on a frozen Manitoba lake. The program teaches youth how to fish sustainably, and about ice safety, how to help yourself in an emergency, how to prepare and cook food, how to find medicines and repair fishing nets and how to work together as a team to provide food for their families and community. They utilize local Elders in the program. Youth connect to the land while learning their traditional language and history from the Elders and Knowledge Keepers. Many schools, for a long time, have had less than 5% Indigenous content in their curriculum, but these statistics are changing for the better because of programs like Kidz on The Land.
In 2022: This year we will be supplying 50 new pairs of boots rated to -100°F, foot/hand warmers, wool socks, balaclavas and ice fishing gear to the Kitigan Zibi Kikinamadinan School in Maniwaki, Quebec as they launch their new winter land-based learning program.
To donate to this initiative please visit https://www.ilovefirstpeoples.ca/donate and select Land-Based Learning in the drop-down menu.
Please Go Shopping on our website The Art for Aid Shop: www.artforaidshop.ca
We are always working to raise funds and awareness. We have a demanding shipping and operations budget. Sending supplies to fly-in communities through Canada Post is very reliable, but also very expensive. To ensure we have a constant flow of funds, we developed The Art for Aid Shop. Using Colleen Gray’s unique and powerful contemporary art, we create wonderful art gifts that can be purchased and shipped anywhere in the world. Proceeds from the sales help keep the big wheels turning. One of our popular products is customized land acknowledgement plaques, customizable for any territory, along with archival quality prints, art cards and so much more. If you don’t see something you want, let us know and we’ll try to make it happen for you. *New* - we now have an area for “Seconds”. From time to time we test run a new image for archival quality production, but it doesn’t quite suite our high standards. We are offering these items at a discount. We’ll update it with new items as they’re available. (shipping costs are extra).
Locations carrying Art for Aid Shop gift items:
Madahoki Farm - 4420 W Hunt Club Rd, Nepean, ON K2R 1E7
Carleton Place: The Cheddar Stop - 10471 Trans-Canada Hwy, Carleton Place, ON K7C 3P2 Merrickville: Healthily Ever After - 18 Brock St W, Merrickville, ON K0G 1N0 Smiths Falls: The Arts Hub - 14 Main St W, Smiths Falls, ON K7A 1M5 Online: IndigenARTSY Online: Madahoki Virtual Marketplace
Covid 19 Response: When Covid 19 hit hard Colleen quickly discovered that there were very limited caution and information resources available in First Nations, Inuit and Metis languages. To mitigate that shortfall, Colleen used 2 pieces of her artwork to create “Wash your hands” posters in over 25 dialects. We then sent notices to all borders of the country to let communities know that this resource was available as a free downloadable poster. If your community is not listed, please reach out to us and provide us with your official language translation of “Wash your hands” and we’ll add your language to the collection. Washing your hands is still the best way to prevent or lessen viral outbreaks.
The Map to My School: For 6 years we have been shipping Indigenous place name maps to the schools along with the art supply shipments. These remarkable maps were created at the University of Maine’s Canadian/American Centre. They are professionally mastered and help youth connect to land and language. Sadly, the university will be halting production of these maps and they will no longer be available to the public.
We do not sell our maps – they are earmarked for the schools. But to order your own map go to the Canadian-American Center: “Coming Home”
How you can help: If you are interested in making a monetary donation to Art for Aid please go to the
donation menu at www.ilfp.ca. Art for Aid is a successful and independent grassroots program that has raised its own funds by art sales and donations for over 10 years. We now operate under I Love First Peoples, a Canadian registered charity. You will receive a donation receipt in February. We are beyond grateful to everyone who contributes to helping us supply remote community schools with quality art learning tools. Together we are making inroads that are providing youth more access to something that many of us take for granted. Chi miigwetch. We'lalin. Kinanaskomitin. Thank you so much. Colleen Gray
The Art for Aid Project