Anishinaabe artist beads massive tribute to patients at SickKids Hospital

An Anishinaabe artist has created a tribute to the patients at Ontario’s SickKids Hospital – one “bravery bead” at a time.

Thousands of beads make up this shrine crafted by Nico Williams, who is originally from Aamjiwnaang First Nation in southwestern Ontario. Williams said the project is “focusing on everyone’s bravery.”

“We got over three thousand beads from patients,” Williams told CTV News. “We attached it to this surface that was woven with over 200,000 beads…all of that is all stitched.”

Williams said he received thousands of letters with the donated beads used to make the project, with past and current patients sharing their stories.

Those stories include Nathan Costante, now two and a half years old.

“At two weeks old he had to undergo open-heart surgery and at two months old he had to do the same,” his mother Crystal Costante told CTV News.

The beads are given to each patient after they undergo a procedure, test or treatment at the hospital.

Costante donated 700 of them – Nathan had multiple surgeries and spent almost a year at SickKids.

“At ten months old he had a double lung transplant,” Costante said. ”SickKids is the only hospital in Canada that is able to do this amazing surgery and gave us a second chance with Nathan.”

The monument also commemorates the millionth donor to the SickKids Foundation.

“We can’t wait to display it in the hospital as a lasting reminder of the bravery that our patients endure,” said CEO of the SickKids Foundation, Ted Garrard.

The beaded tribute is to be displayed in the new SickKids building, set to be completed in 2023.