A stroll through the Arts and Crafts building at the CNE in Toronto this summer brought us to the amazing 36-metre (120-foot) Quilt of Belonging.
It was a wonder to walk along and study each of the 263 blocks. The first row of blocks was dedicated to all of the 71 founding nations living in Canada, while the next 192 blocks represented every world nation. The top band draws them all together. Pieced from 1,200 strips of bright colours creating a mirrored light spectrum, the diverse quilt symbolizes all of life.
The Quilt is the brainchild of Esther Bryan, an artist and resident of Williamstown, Ontario. After a life-changing trip to Slovakia with her father in 1994, she returned to Canada with these questions: “What are the basic needs of human beings? What value does God place on each life, and how do we all fit together?”
The basic need for everyone to belong inspired her to invite people from different groups to create quilt blocks using symbols, techniques and materials representing their roots and cultures. Supported by thousands of volunteers who shared their gifts of time, talent and donations, the blocks were created and the giant quilt slowly assembled.
In Esther’s words: “Our vision was to create a collaborative work of art that will recognize Canada’s and the world’s diversity, celebrate our common humanity and promote harmony and compassion among people.”
The unique quilt has been on tour since it opened at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in April 2005 and continues to travel both nationally and internationally.
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