Nico Williams’s Tribute to Children Dealing with Illnesses

Nico Williams, an Anishinaabe sculptor, was approached by the SickKids Foundation with a difficult yet unique proposal.

The idea was to turn thousands of beads gathered by the foundation into a piece of art honoring the bravery of children with life-threatening illnesses who had passed through its doors.

The Monument to the Brave, a beautiful portrait of courage, is now complete and ready to be installed in a SickKids facility in Toronto. The Monument to the Brave is made up of 250,000 multicolored beads in total. Williams said that he had never sewn or beaded something so massive before.

Williams, from the Aamjiwnaang First Nation, is currently pursuing a master’s degree at Concordia University. Amid his studies and multiple gallery shows, he found the time to put together this incredible work.

One of the contributors, Aballe, says what initially attracted him to Williams was his ability to honor First Nations craft practices while infusing them with a pleasingly contemporary spin. A moving video portrait of the creative process, which includes many child and parent testimonials, was used to support the final sculpture.

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