B.C. Haida artist Carol Young died on Oct. 30. A new solo art exhibit showcasing her work opens this weekend in Seattle.

Carol Young, an artist who fought for timely cancer treatment in Abbotsford, dies before first solo show

B.C. Haida artist's exhibit to open Saturday at downtown Seattle gallery

Carol Young’s “warrior spirit” was hard to miss. It remains so.

For years, Young couldn’t find the right job because she couldn’t stay quiet when she thought employers overstepped their boundaries. When she found her calling, she produced art that spoke to the difficulty of being a woman in a man’s world. And when B.C.’s health care system seemed ready to fail her, Young made a ruckus until she got the help she desperately needed.

Young died on Oct. 30, surrounded by family in hospice care in Langley. She was 66.

Young, who had a deadly form of lung cancer, made news in May when she found it impossible to get a timely doctor’s appointment in Abbotsford, despite having been told she had just a month to live without treatment. After speaking to The News, Young was able to see an oncologist, after which she received radiation and chemotherapy.

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But Young didn’t just spend the 10 months between her cancer diagnosis and death calling for improvements to how the province treats cancer patients.

Young had four children, 12 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren, and the past year saw her family bond and come together as never before.

“We created some really special memories,” her daughter Alisa said this week. This spring, Young was able to meet and bond with Alisa’s newborn child.

“My mom got to see a lot of her firsts,” Alisa said. “I spent months at a time just with my daughter and I and her, so we got to connect as mothers, which is pretty amazing, because I feel like I got pretty lucky with her.”

And despite her passing, Young will achieve a new professional milestone in November. On Saturday, a solo art exhibit showcasing Young’s work will open at a downtown Seattle gallery. The show has been in the works for five years.

Young, who was Haida, came to art late in life, selling small pieces on eBay while working in a Courtenay post office.

Eventually, she began to make enough money to quit her job. But she only slowly realized just what she was doing.

“I had to realize I’m an artist,” she told The News this summer.

So Young went back to school, and graduated from the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art in 2009. Her career grew, and she was featured in various collaborative art shows, and sold her work to collectors.

Five years ago, she started working with the Steinbrueck Native Gallery in Seattle to create a solo art show. All the pieces would be focused on women and the challenges they faced. The pieces on display can be viewed here.

“It’s about Aboriginal women getting their voices back,” Young said this summer.

An opening event for the exhibit takes place Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. It will be streamed live on Facebook on a page that can be found by searching “Carol Young Haida Artist.” (Click here.)

Young won’t be there, but her daughter Alisa and sister Kathy will speak.

“She was just the true definition of a warrior woman,” Alisa said. “She showed how powerful it is to do what your passion is.

“My mom’s definition of success was she was able to do something that she loved and make a living at that.”

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