The Russian attack on Ukraine has produced an exodus of ordinary citizens on trains and in packed cars, carrying their pets on their back and even sending young children on ahead of parents. Over 4 million Ukrainians have fled into neighboring countries such as Poland, but many are expected to travel to nations such as the United States and Canada on refugee visas. A group of quilters in Manitoba, Canada, is readying for the refugees with special gifts—handmade quilts to offer comfort and welcome.
Maureen Carr was watching the news in March when she was struck by how little Ukrainian refugees were able to take with them as they fled the Russian bombardment. Drawing on her experience as a quilter, Carr posted in a quilting group on Facebook in search of volunteers to create blankets. Dozens of (mostly women) volunteers answered her call and descended on the local legion hall in Carman, Manitoba, armed with sewing machines, fabric, and batting.
The group has so far created 130 quilts over several weeks, ranging from baby blankets to queen-sized spreads. The group wants each refugee to receive their own individual blanket so that they have something special that’s all their own. Each blanket bears a small patch reading, “Welcome to Canada. We care.” The blankets were displayed at the Carman Active Living Centre where visitors admired and donated to materials costs. The quilts will be driven by volunteers (including a priest and some hockey fans) to Winnipeg once word of the first refugees arrives. Nigel Bart, a local artist who helped put together the quilt show, told CBC, “Quilts are immensely symbolic…You're sewing patches, different fabrics together. This is what multiculturalism here in Canada is about.”
The beautiful, colorful quilts of the Manitoba volunteers are meaningful tokens of acceptance and love. Quilters in the U.S. have organized similar blanket drives. The world is rallying around Ukraine; and, while admirable, this response has been contrasted with Western ambivalence to refugee crises in Asia, Africa, and South America. To continue the analogy of a quilt, may all refugees be wrapped in warmth and concern in the future with the spirit and kindness embodied by the quilters of Manitoba.
A group of quilters in Manitoba, Canada, have come together to sew over 130 quilts for Ukrainian refugees.
They were inspired by news of refugees fleeing with not much more than the clothes on their back. The blankets will welcome families to Canada.
h/t: [CBC Manitoba]
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