Thursday, 10 May 2018 11:32

Veterans honoured with warmth of hand-made quilts

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Marcie Erick presents a quilt to Second World War veteran Jerry Smith. Marcie Erick presents a quilt to Second World War veteran Jerry Smith. Matthew Liebenberg/Prairie Post

Seventeen Canadian Armed Forces veterans from Saskatchewan and Alberta received hand-made quilts to thank them for their service to the country during a Quilts of Valour Canada presentation in Swift Current.


The presentation ceremony took place during the Southwest Quilter's Guild quilt show at Kinetic Exhibition Park's Palliser Pavilion, May 5.
 The presentation was coordinated and emceed by Marcie Erick, the Quilts of Valour representative in Swift Current.
The event was attended by family members of the veterans, representatives from four veteran motorcycle clubs, as well as three air cadets from 605 Tarry Squadron and Deputy Mayor George Bowditch.
“The amount of supporters that came out was fantastic,” Erick said. “I couldn't be happier with how this went. It means a lot to me that that many people would come out and show their support for our veterans. They deserve it more than they get recognized for.”
The 17 veterans have served in different wars, including two veterans from the Second World War, and one veteran from the Korean War. Others have served in more recent conflicts such as Afghanistan.
"The focus is to present quilts to ill or injured veterans in Canada and just to wrap them in something that is like a quilted hug and to let them know that somebody is always there, somebody is always listening, and somebody cares” she said. “We as a group of people that work on these quilts were happy to do it for them because they deserve it. They should be recognized for everything that they’ve done for us."
According to Erick over half of the veterans who received quilts at the ceremony are living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“My uncle was in the military and he served overseas in Bosnia and Croatia, and we lost him to PTSD in 1999,” she said. “So this means a lot to me, especially the younger veterans that were here today that live with it every day. I was really happy to have them here.”
She feels it is important to raise awareness about the struggles of veterans who are dealing with PTSD on a daily basis.
“You're not supposed to talk about it, you're not supposed to mention it, people are not supposed to have it, but people do,” she said. “It's a real thing. PTSD isn't something that people should shy away from talking about. It's definitely something that people need to talk about it. That's how people get help, and that’s how they reach out.”
It was an important motivation for her when she decided to get involved with the activities of Quilts of Valour Canada.
“I talked to their board and I told them what I wanted to do,” she said. “Their primary has been reaching out to injured veterans across Canada, and I wanted to reach out to veterans who live with PTSD. That wasn’t something they recognized before as an injury. So I told them how I felt and they discussed it and came back to me and they said yes, that’s definitely something that you should do.”
Quilts of Valour is a Canadian charity that was founded in 2006 by Lezley Zwaal in Edmonton.
“She started this by taking three quilts to a hospital to deliver to three veterans that have been injured and it has grown from that into a cross-country organization that has delivered more than 10,000 quilts to veterans,” Erick said.
The quilts presented to the 17 veterans were mostly done by local quilters. A label on each quilt indicates the name of the person who made it.
“Then they know that’s how many people had a hand in it and that somebody they’ve never met or don’t even know would still take the time to do it for them,” she said.
The following veterans received quilts during the May 5 presentation in Swift Current:
Steve Stanford (Gull Lake), Serge Leduc (Saskatoon), Richard Pollock (Swift Current), Gordan Harth (Redcliff), Frankie Harth (Redcliff), Jana Simms (Saskatoon), Del Windrom (Moose Jaw), George Shupe (Saskatoon), Douglas Barlclay (Cold Lake), Jon Graves (Regina), Jerry Smith (Swift Current), Todd Gilman (High River), Slim Thomas (Swift Current), Pete Garton (Regina), John Fortune (Moose Jaw), Susan Fortune (Moose Jaw), and Norman Haigh (Regina).

Read 1006 times Last modified on Friday, 11 May 2018 09:34
Matthew Liebenberg

Reporter/Photographer