Sask. woman fulfills late father's wish through art

A Saskatoon woman is using her art to raise money for those suffering with cancer in memory of her late father.

Erin Holm donates to Cancer Lodges after every sale

Erin created Den Designs in her father's name to raise money for a cause he believed in. (Erin Holm)

When Erin Holm's father, Dennis, died of a rare form of cancer in 2016, he left his woodworking tools to her.

Now, she uses them to create art and furniture pieces to raise money in honour of him.

Erin Holm has a job in marketing but sells her custom creations online. (Erin Holm)

In January of this year, Holm started her company, Den Designs — named after her father.

She uses scrap pieces of wood and metal to create custom mementos and decor pieces.

And Holm donates 10 to 20 per cent of the proceeds from every sale to Canadian cancer lodges in western Canada.

"It's been really rewarding," said Holm, who is one of the nominees in CBC's #iamSK storytelling project.

"I want to give back, use his tools and keep learning and growing. I would love to be able to support all the cancer lodges in Canada in some way."

According to Holm, there are very few of these lodges in each province, where those facing cancer stay while getting chemotherapy and radiation if they live outside of major cities.

When he was ill, Dennis was living in Campbell River, B.C. and had to take a six-hour bus ride to Victoria to stay at the cancer lodge for weeks on end during treatment.

That's where he died in March 2016.

While Holm said they did a great job, Dennis told her it was missing some things to make it feel like home.

"He felt that they were quite underfunded and very integral to people that were living with cancer now," Holm said.

Holm said much of the money raised for cancer tends to go to research and future benefit, but Dennis wanted to see more put toward the well-being of those living with the disease now.

Since she began donating regularly to the lodge in Saskatoon, Holm said the facility has purchased an outdoor pergola, new bedding and televisions for the residents.

The Saskatoon-based marketer by trade started selling her woodworking locally and donating the money in the city. She has since contacted cancer lodges in Regina, Edmonton and Victoria to donate to them as well.

All the lodges she has donated to now have wood prints she made featuring their provincial flags. Beside the art pieces is a photo of her father and a write-up of his story.

Holm highlights many of her designs via Instagram and said she has gotten a few custom orders through social media.

She describes her creations as rustic and industrial, and said she sells a lot of wood prints, which were popular in the early 1900s.

"I don't claim to be a woodworker or a carpenter. I'm just a girl who's self-taught and I'm super passionate and put pride into what I do," she said.  

Rona sponsors and provides much of the wood Holm uses, and she does a lot of the photography she features on her art herself. She has also partnered with professional photography company Icarus & Apollo.

You can find Holm's work on her Den Designs website.

CBC Saskatchewan is embarking on an ambitious storytelling project to mark 2017. #iamSK will share stories of people who are helping lead us today or building our future in Saskatchewan.

With files from Samanda Brace