Thursday, 15 October 2009

Inuit artist Normee Ekoomiak dies

CBC News - North - Inuit artist Normee Ekoomiak dies

"Normee was loved and respected by those in the homeless community and all those who were privileged to share his life."

Ekoomiak was a victim of Canada's residential school system and struggled with addictions throughout his life.

Two years ago, both of his legs and eight fingers had to be amputated because of infection.

Ekoomiak's doctor and friend, Dr. Jeff Turnbull, said despite the challenges he faced, Ekoomiak was a pleasure to be around.

"He was battling those demons throughout his whole life, but he carried that with great dignity," Turnbull said.

"He was never hostile or angry about things. He was always very peaceful. It was a great inspiration for all of us."

Turnbull recalls how Ekoomiak let people at the shelter know that he was an artist.

"One day, he just let it slip out that he liked to paint," Turnbull said.

"We gave him some painting supplies, and he said, 'I'll paint something like I had in the National Gallery.'"

Turnbull said nobody believed Ekoomiak was a real painter until he put brush to canvas.

"He certainly proved us wrong."

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