Invitation: The Quilt of Belonging
Salle de presse

Quilt of Belonging Launch
By Sultan Jessa
Standard Freeholder, March 17, 2005

After six years of hard work, what is reputed to be Canada's largest and most comprehensive textile art project will be inaugurated in Ottawa on April 1.

"So many people have put so much effort in this project," Esther Bryan, a Williamstown artist, said Wednesday.

"When ordinary people pull together for a common purpose, they can accomplish a lot."

She spearheaded the project to create the monumental embroidered quilt.

The gala launch for Invitation: The Quilt of Belonging will be held at the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

The 120-ft. long tapestry - made by cultural groups from across Canada - will be on view to the public from April 2-10.

After that, the quilt will make its way to Cornwall.

"We are looking forward to the homecoming celebrations," said Bryan.

The homecoming is set for April 23 at the NAV CANADA Training Institute.

"This was not an easy dream to accomplish," said Bryan.

She said every single country in the world, represented in Canada, is highlighted in the quilt.

This project is unique in the extent of its inclusiveness.

Bryan said rich, cultural legacies are portrayed in the 263 blocks and include all of Canada's First Peoples and many nations of the world since they are all part of the Canadian mosaic.

The quilt began as the dream of Bryan, who wanted to symbolically show that there is a place for everyone in the fabric of society.

"Though culturally diverse, we are linked by a common humanity from which to build our future," she said. Since 1998, the artist has worked with hundreds of people from Victoria to Newfoundland and the Arctic Circle.

Bryan said the quilt tells the story of Canada and its people, starting from the First Nations to the newest of immigrants.

To be launched at the same time will be a 300-page full-colour book Quilt of Belonging with 800 colour pictures. Isabella Carello, a principal writer of the book, said faces from every nation are revealed through personal stories, some shared for the first time.

Bryan, also the project co-ordinator, said the quilt will begin a five-year, cross-Canada tour and will possibly make tours to France, Holland and Switzerland, as well.

Born in France, Bryan's missionary father, Jan Gazdik, a Slovak immigrant, fled to Switzerland to seek refuge and later made his way to Ellis Island - sometimes referred to as the Island of Tears - in the United States.

The artist's mother, Alice Seatter, also a missionary, is an American of Scottish-German descent.

Bryan's family first moved to France from Switzerland and then moved to America and finally to Canada.

Invitation Project