Indigenous carver Zachary George has come full circle. On Saturday, November 3rd he returns to a once familiar place, the Downtown Eastside, but this time as a strong and thriving adult, creating art live at the Imperial. Zachary is helping raising funds for at-risk and vulnerable youth, as part of Youth Unlimited’s Art of Art: Westcoast Formal Fundraiser.
When Zachary was young, he knew there was something different about him. He recalls not being able to leave his bed as a kid, wanting to sleep and hide from the world. He self-medicated, using drugs as early as 12 and lost himself on the Downtown Eastside. Though he grew up in a supportive family who noticed something wrong, they did not know how to help. At 19 Zachary was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. He replaced drugs with medication that helped keep his life steady. Out of this balance, Zachary discovered a gift for carving and grew to love the Indigenous culture, spirituality and self-expression.
Now married with seven children and living in Sts’ailes, Zachary wants to give back to those in a similar situation, especially youth who struggle with mental illness or are at-risk of drug addiction.
“Getting the chance to help vulnerable youth is huge for me,” he says. “It’s a big honour just to be able to stand there and show people that there’s hope. I’m the same as them. I got through and they are not alone.”
Patrick De Michele is another Art of Art artist who can relate to the youth the event exists to support. At one and a half years old, he was found on the street and subsequently adopted.
“When I was a teen, it was hopelessness that led to my bad behaviour,” he explains. “I got involved in bad stuff because that’s all I could see to do. But I want kids today to have different options.” From the streets to a foreman and artist, art has been the mainstay in Patrick’s tumultuous life.
Both Zachary and Patrick are two of eight artists gathering from all over the Lower Mainland for Youth Unlimited’s The Art of Art: A Westcoast Formal in support of vulnerable and at-risk youth.
In partnership with Art! Vancouver and Orbiiit, The Art of Art fundraiser is an interactive and innovative artistic engagement event for guests. From live art-making, to food tasting; from savory innovation, to soulful music and dancing, guests get to observe and participate as art is created. The program is hosted by Z95.3 morning host Scooter and local rapper Terrance Richmond. Tickets and more info: www.youthunlimited.com/westcoastformal.