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Erika Lamb Memorial Art Award

Photo caption: Teacher Leanne Bulthuis with Kalechi Ugwokegbe, one of the students that received the Erika Lamb Memorial Art Award. The award statue was created by Floyd Elzinga and has Erika’s profile incorporated in it.


Erika Lamb was talented, smart and determined and she used her talents to achieve success in school and in sports.

Erika was also shy and introspective, and it was through painting and sculpture that she was able to express herself. That’s why her family has established the Erika Lamb Memorial Art Award to ensure that the blessing of artistic creativity is something that many other Christian school students will be able to enjoy.

Erika was only 16 years old when she died as a result of injuries suffered in a skiing accident in March 2015. However, her parents, Scott and Juliette, are comforted by Erika’s own assertion that life was rich and good. “She said, ‘I’ve been privileged to do and experience so much but there are so many more things to do and see’,” recalls Scott. “She was on the threshold of stepping into life.” Despite their grief, “it makes us feel very good to know that she had so much enthusiasm for embracing her future.”

The award in Erika’s memory has two parts: one to expose students to the arts and nurture their talent through an annual art fund at Trinity Christian School in Burlington, where Erika attended, and the second to recognize and encourage other aspiring artists through the Erika Lamb Memorial Art Award, given to Grade 8 students graduating from Trinity.

Erika’s grandfather, Henry Vandenberg, who presented the award to Rebecca Fisher and Kalechi Ugwokegbe on the family’s behalf at the Trinity graduation in June, is pleased to see that the talent and joy in creativity that Erika had, are being recognized in other artists. Her family is pleased to see that a rich art program has the potential to nurture other students “in a way that honours Erika’s spirit,” said Juliette. “I think it is important that art is awarded and rewarded”.

Trinity art teacher Leanne Bulthuis, who remembers Erika’s creativity and skill, was delighted to use the first year of funding to establish an art club, to take students to visit an art gallery and to acquire much-needed art supplies for a school that had not been able to invest much in art in the past.

That’s exactly what the family hoped would be achieved. “Fostering creativity is a very important part of education and of growth,” said Scott.

The awards are supported through a Fund in Erika’s name at the Christian School Foundation and are financed by donations made in her memory— “an outpouring that could not be stopped,” said Foundation Executive Vice-President Henry Koornneef. Erika’s family is grateful for a way to keep her memory and her spirit alive, but they also hope that the Erika Lamb Awards inspire other people to support the arts in Christian education. Making a gift does not require a tragic loss like theirs, Scott said. “If a memory of a person or an experience pops into your head,” it could be the inspiration for a gift “decades later.”