Etobicoke Quilter’s Guild 215 Quilt
When 215 unmarked graves were found on the site of the former residential school in Kamloops, BC, we were horrified. We struggled to know what to do in response, but since we’re quilters, for lack of other options, we decided to make a quilt. Members were invited to make a total of 215 3” blocks that had some orange in them, one to represent each lost child. We were encouraged to make each block slowly and thoughtfully, pondering the little lost lives as we did so. After about a year we had enough blocks to assemble them. Many members contributed blocks, one person sewed the blocks all together, another quilted it, and yet another put a binding around the edge. There is a wide assortment of blocks contained—ranging from the intricate to very simple. There is a beaded medicine wheel, and there is another block that contains 215 individual silk flower petals, each lovingly hand-stitched in place. There are some blocks that have Indigenous-style motifs, and others that remind us of things in nature: butterflies, bear paws, leaves and flying geese. All were created out of love, and sorrow that such horrors occurred.
We are going to donate the quilt to an Indigenous organization, and they can choose whether to display it or sell it, their choice. We are currently in conversation with a local elder, Phillip Coté, and he is helping us find the best group to donate it to.
On this National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, and every day, we fervently hope for peace and healing.