Meet the artist who gets art supplies to Indigenous schools and promotes artists

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Published by CBC Ottawa/CBC Indigenous

Art for Aid helped launch young Indigenous artist’s exhibit at gallery in Ottawa

Thanks to the efforts of Ottawa-area artist Colleen Gray, a teenager from a First Nation in Saskatchewan will be showcasing and selling her artwork at a gallery in Ottawa from June through December.

But promoting the work of Indigenous artists isn’t all Gray does — she’s also the founder of Art For Aid, an initiative that ships art supplies to remote Indigenous schools.

For a large part of Gray’s life, her mother kept their Mi’kmaq heritage secret from her and her siblings, she said. But some 20 years ago, during a hunting trip, her uncle produced a status card and the jig was up.

“Back around the time that my mom was growing up, being Native on any level was not something that you put out there in front of everybody,” Gray said. “There’s a lot of stigma attached to it, a lot racism, a lot of residential school damage was done to a lot of people who once freely practiced their culture.”

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