Linda Fraser just wanted to drive up to her old home town of Smithers last August to hold a show of some of her latest artworks.
That long drive to B.C.’s Central Interior however, turned out to be the precursor to so much more than that.
The French Creek artist made the journey to put on a show at the Smithers Art Gallery called Homecoming.
Working as a resident artist at the gallery over the course of her month-long show, Fraser interacted with school children who visited the gallery on field trips.
“I had four or five classes come to the gallery when I was the resident artist and I would talk to the kids,” she said.
“The little kids would get totally involved with what I was doing because I was doing a live demonstration. When I asked them what they used for art supplies, they said not very much.”
That recurring theme was disturbing to Fraser, who decided she wanted to do something about it.
“I wanted to give something back to my community,” she said. “Smithers is my home town and my family has been there since the 1920s.”
Fraser decided to make some enquiries of her artistic colleagues when she returned home to Oceanside to see if they might be able to help.
“We all have art supplies in our cupboards that we never use,” she said. “I asked everybody I saw. What was totally gratifying was that the whole arts community jumped on the bandwagon and came up with all kinds of supplies.”
Not only did local artists and arts groups donate their unwanted supplies, they also came up with brand new supplies, paid for out of their own pockets.
“My car was absolutely jammed with supplies,” she said. “I was picking up bags all over the community and people were dropping them of at my door and leaving bags of supplies at the Oceanside Arts Council building.”
In April, Fraser drove her now-jam packed car back to Smithers and handed them over to the School District 54 Aboriginal Education program.
“I have a Nissan Ultima car with a big trunk and it was full of art supplies,” Fraser said. “The representatives from the School District Office were overwhelmed with what came out of that car.”
The supplies were then distributed to Silverthorne Muheim, Lake Kathlyn, Moricetown and Fort Babine elementary schools.
Aboriginal Education principal Birdy Markert said the donation was important to students in the Bulkley Valley.
“I wish to thank Linda Fraser and her friends in Parksville for their generous donation,” she said.