More than 20 members of the Campbell River Friendship Quilters Guild participated in the “Quilts of Valour National Sewing Day” on Feb. 2.
The quilters linked via Zoom with quilters across the country, all of whom were focused on making quilts to be donated to Canada’s wounded veterans. Growing from a small group to thousands of volunteers across the country, Quilts of Valour Canada (QOVC) has presented quilts to nearly 22,000 veterans from WWII to present day vets.
Honoured visitors at this sewing day were Nerissa Thomas (Regional QOVC Coordinator), and a very special surprise: Lezley Zwaal, the Founder of QOVC. It was amazing to hear her story of the initial spark for this program, making one quilt for one soldier wounded in Kandahar. His deep gratitude inspired more and more quilts for more vets.
Sean Smith, a veteran himself from a family of veterans, spoke of the profound emotional impact that a QOVC quilt has for wounded veterans. He described the disconnect many vets feel once they are back home, as few people can relate to – or even wish to acknowledge – the reality of their struggles. He said that the gift of this ”healing cloth” lets the vets know that quilters “get it” and truly value their service and sacrifice.
Quilts of Valour are presented in person to the vets. The quilt is draped around the shoulders of the recipient and they are given “a hug from a grateful nation.” This can be very emotional for everyone present, as it was last July when six quilts were presented as part of Operation Pegasus, a veterans-to-veterans organization which promotes emotional healing while training vets to parachute.
Anyone may nominate a Canadian veteran to receive a quilt, if they have served in a combat or peacekeeping mission including theatres of war or have become ill or injured as a result of their service to Canada. Requests can be made online at https://www.quiltsofvalour.ca/