Quilts can be welcome comfort to injured or ill members

Quilts of valour
Sgt Brad Jones, who is releasing from the Canadian Armed Forces, shows off a quilt he was presented by Quilts of Valour at 4 Wing Cold Lake. Photo: Cliff Kenyon

Sara White

The national Quilts of Valour program has a network of quilters across Canada, including Cold Lake, working with fabric and patterns to make each quilt unique.

The quilts are presented to injured or ill Canadian Armed Forces members.
4 Wing Cold Lake Sergeant Brad Jones, who worked in aircraft maintenance, is one of the latest recipients of the quilts. Jones joined the armed forces 22 years ago and has been granted a medical release due to operational stress injuries.

He said he was pleased to be surprised by the presentation of a quilt at 4 Wing. After leaving the forces he will be working in vocational rehabilitation in Edmonton in Operational Stress Injury Support. He will be meeting with ill or injured members as a peer support program.

The Quilts of Valour program was launched in 2009 and has since distributed more than 12,500 handmade quilts to ill or injured CAF personnel and veterans. This is the organization’s 10th anniversary. “We could use more,” Mary Ewing says. She’s the national organization president, also based in the Annapolis Valley.

One group meets the third Thursday of each month in Greenwood, Nova Scotia, home of 14 Wing, putting their talents toward quilts that end up all over the Maritimes.

“Our recipients use their quilts, or display them in halls or over stairwells,” says Brenda Hulan, a volunteer with the Greenwood group and the Nova Scotian representative of the national program. “I’ve seen pictures of a fellow with his two boys on a TV hockey night, all snuggled on the couch and sound asleep under his quilt. Use your quilt – it’s what we want!”

“One presentation often generates another one or two, as people say they have a buddy who would like one,” Hulan said. “Every quilt presentation is moving; we’re making a bit of a fanfare for them and we always have a nice response.”

The women are looking for help making quilts: sewing always needs extra hands and, even if you’re a non-sewer, there is fabric cutting and ironing, pattern piecing, measuring, and more. Financial donations can help with the purchase of fabrics and sewing supplies; Quilts of Valour even has a quilt block kit it sells or sponsors. People who pick up a kit can sew it and send it back in to be added to a quilt in progress. Quilt fabrics often feature red and white colouring or patterns, or Canadian-themed maple leaves, wildlife, floral or camouflage designs.

Crafters, quilters or anyone interested in the program are welcome to get in touch with the 14 Wing Greenwood group to connect with program volunteers from Greenwood or elsewhere in Canada. Contact Mary Ewing at president@quiltsofvalour.ca.