SAULT STE. MARIE -- A Sault Ste. Marie woman is raising money for residential school survivors through her art. Her sketch of the shoe memorial on the front steps of Algoma University continues to bring in donations - even though she had no intention of selling this particular piece.

Amy Williams said her art project began with a suggestion from her friends that she do a portrait of the residential school memorial at Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. After working on it for several hours, she posted her finished piece on social media. What followed was a number of requests from interested buyers. But, she was hesitant to sell.

"I thought, no, I don’t want to do that, I don’t want to dream about even making any kind of money off of this," Williams said. "But then it just took me a second and I thought if I did make some money, then I could really donate to one of the causes that would help survivors."
 

Williams began selling prints and has so far collected more than $5,000 for the Shingwauk Residential School Centre. And now, her original portrait will be given a permanent home in the Shingwauk Hall exhibit at Algoma University.

 

"I couldn’t be more flattered, more honoured that they would want my piece hanging there in their permanent exhibition,"  Williams said. "I couldn’t be more touched."

 

Asima Vezina, the president of Algoma University, said Williams' portrait will make a great addition to the Shingwauk exhibit.

 

"She’s really captured a moment in the site’s history and I think in the history of Canada and she’s done so with such good intentions," Vezina said. "I think it’s just fitting that she be recognized for that."

 

Vezina said donations to the Shingwauk Centre have spiked in recent weeks.

 

"We’ve had a lot of donations from community members as well as from foundations," she said. "I think because people see the important work that the children of Shingwauk Alumni Association and former residential school survivors are doing and planning to do on the site."

 

Meanwhile, Williams said she will continue to sell prints of her residential school memorial portrait through her Facebook page until June 16.