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‘She was my soul sister’: Friends mourn the loss of First Nations artist Amy Willier

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WATCH: The Alberta community is mourning the loss of a prominent Cree artist. Amy Willier died unexpectedly on Thursday, her cause of death still not known. As Jill Croteau reports, she leaves behind quite a legacy – Jan 26, 2021

The sudden passing of Amy Willier months before her 38th birthday is still hard to comprehend.

The prominent Cree artist died unexpectedly on Thursday, her cause of death is not known. She leaves behind quite a legacy.

Close friend Melrene Saloy-Eaglespeaker said her family is heartbroken. Willier leaves behind a 13-year-old son and an eight-year-old nephew she was raising.

Amy Willier. Courtesy: Willier Family

“Her son is taking it tough, as you would expect, but he has family around him. His grandmother Yvonne is with him and they have each other,” Saloy-Eaglespeaker said.

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She has gratitude for the moments they shared together, cherishing one final memory, the day before Willier died.

Amy Willier. Credit: Yamuna Flaherty

“I got to see her on Wednesday and hug her and tell her I love her,” Saloy-Eaglespeaker said. “Just to know the next day she was no longer there, was really rough.

“All I can think of is what I’ll miss, like her laughter.”

A memorial continues to grow outside the Inglewood shop Willier ran alongside her mother. Moonstone Creation was the place Willier spent most of her time, creating and teaching her craft.

Memorial outside Moonstone Creation. Jill Croteau/Global News

“I think it’s beautiful. This just goes to show you how many people she’s touched,” Saloy-Eaglespeaker said.

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“You can only hope when you’re no longer here this is the impact you left on the earth.

“She was just an amazing person and she touched so many people. She had a big smile and was vibrant and very passionate,” Saloy-Eaglespeaker said. “She was a great mother and an amazing daughter and one of the best friends I will ever have.”

Willier was always taking opportunities to honor her culture and sharing her Indigenous pride.

Memorial for Amy Willier outside shop she co-owned. Jill Croteau/Global News

“She was a proud Cree woman and was often showing that, yes, we are beads and feathers but we’re not beads and feathers like you see in the movies,” Saloy-Eaglespeaker said.

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There will be a private memorial at a later date. Saloy-Eaglespeaker is inviting those close to her to a vigil on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. in the parking lot outside her Inglewood shop.

A slide show of photos and memories will be showcased. There will be space for people to physically distance. A fundraiser has been set up for her family.

“It’s been tough not seeing her but I feel her around and it gives my comfort that she’s going to help me succeed and watch over me and her children,” Saloy-Eaglespeaker said.

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