Letter: A quilt with a powerful story coming to Kingston

The Solidarity Quilt was created in honour of the 20th anniversary of the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmother to Grandmother campaign. Submitted photo.

Editor’s note: The following is a submitted letter written by a volunteer with the Kingston Grandmother Connection, sharing details of an upcoming local event. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Kingstonist.

How do you tell a story of two decades of grandmothers in Canada reaching out to help their fellow grandmothers in Africa, suddenly left raising their grandchildren orphaned by the AIDS epidemic? How do you portray the resolve and commitment of these grandmothers to strengthen their families and communities? How do you reflect the connection and love among all of these grandmothers, a continent and ocean apart? How do you celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Stephen Lewis Foundation Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign?

You do it by creating a quilt.

A quilt that depicts a tree with strong roots, a sturdy trunk, and branches and leaves, is a powerful symbol of the many ways grandmothers individually and collectively play in the fabric of their communities. That is why it is called The Solidarity Quilt.

Assembly of the quilt began in December of 2022. Individual leaves and border pieces were created by grandmothers in six sub-Saharan countries using native fabric and design that had symbolic meaning for them. The quilt displays an array of textures, colours, and patterns. It was stitched together by teams of grandmothers in 10 cities across Canada. The Kingston Grandmother Connection members stitched the binding and, thanks to the generosity of Stitch by Stitch and the expertise of local long arm quilt artist Jackie Gaudreau, the quilt was fastened to the backing and batten over five days.

The quilt was worked on by grandmothers in Africa (top) and Canada (bottom). Submitted images.

The Solidarity Quilt and its sister quilt, No One Left Behind, have embarked on a cross-country tour, exciting and inspiring everyone who has seen it.

The Kingston Grandmother Connection is proud to host the showing of this quilt. There is no charge but donations to the Stephen Lewis Foundation are gratefully accepted. All showings are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will take place on the dates below at the respective locations:

  • Seniors Centre, 56 Francis Street,  June 19 and 20
  • Stitch by Stitch, 550 Days Road, Unit 1, June 22 and 23
  • St. John’s Anglican Church, 41 Church Street,  June 28
  • Gallery Raymond, 334 Princess Street, June 29

The Kingston Grandmother Connection has been meeting and raising funds for the Stephen Lewis Foundation and Help Lesotho since 2006. Members can participate as much or as little as is comfortable. Fifty new members have joined since 2019 and you don’t have to be a grandmother to join!

Meetings are monthly and involve planning events, learning about fellow grandmothers in Africa, and the fellowship of other grandmothers. For more information, visit www.g2gkingston.ca.

Barb Thompson
Kingston Grandmother Connection volunteer

Share your views! Submit a Letter to the Editor or an Op/Ed article to Kingstonist’s Editor-in-Chief Tori Stafford at [email protected].

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