Invitation: The Quilt of Belonging
Our Story

Quilt of Belonging was begun in the fall of 1998 by artist Esther Bryan. In 1995 she went on a life-changing journey to Slovakia with her parents to find the family and home her father had left behind 43 years earlier. The dream of making this artwork was born as she recognized that everyone has a story to tell, each culture has a unique beauty and that the experiences and values of our past inform who we are today. In this textile mosaic, each person can experience a sense of belonging and find a place in the overall design - there is "A Place for All". Together they record human history in textile, illustrating the beauty, complexity and sheer size of the human story. Thus, our mission statement reads:

Quilt of Belonging is a collaborative work of art that:
                        recognizes Canada's diversity, celebrates our common humanity
                        and promotes harmony and compassion among people.

This monumental artwork, Canada's most comprehensive textile art project, is the work of volunteers from Victoria to Newfoundland to the Arctic Circle. From across Canada, participants were invited to contribute their talents and ideas, reflected through the prism of their cultural backgrounds. The range of materials is astonishing, from sealskin to African mud-cloth, from embroidered silk to gossamer wings of butterflies.
View Block-by-Block.

Since 1999, the project has been headquartered in the former township offices in the tiny Eastern Ontario village of Williamstown. Quilt of Belonging is a non-profit corporation and a registered charity. In the early stages the project was largely funded by public donations. Gradually, as the project gained momentum, organizations, corporations and grant agencies have added their support.
See Sponsors.

On May 18th, 2000, a special reception featuring the first set of completed pieces was hosted by the Canadian Ethnocultural Council in the Hall of Honour on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. A section of the Quilt was the special feature at the reception on Parliament Hill on June 27th 2003 to mark the first Canadian Multiculturalism Day.

The Quilt of Belonging The inaugural exhibition of the completed Quilt of Belonging took place April 1st, 2005 at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau (Ottawa). Almost 1,000 special guests celebrated the occasion at the opening gala event. The Quilt has been on tour since that spring launch. Take a look at Photo Gallery.

Already 1.4 million visitors have seen the Quilt, experiencing its message of inclusion and richness in diversity. This voyage has included a 10-week, multi-venue exhibition trek across the Arctic. Special showings have included an exhibit in 2009 at the Aga Khan Centre in Ottawa, hosted by the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Speaker of the Senate for all MPs, Senators, VIPs and the Diplomatic Corp. The Quilt was a feature of the 2010 Cultural Olympiad for the 2010 Olympic and Para Olympic Games in Vancouver and was chosen for the G20 Summit in Toronto. Click on Tour Dates.

In 2009, Her Excellency the Right Honourable MichaŽl Jean, Governor General of Canada became Quilt of Belongingís Honourary Patron.

Our companion book, Quilt of Belonging: The Invitation Project is in its third printing, and a French version, Fibres du monde: le projet Invitation is also available. Quilt of Belonging: Stitching Together the Stories of a Nation is a childrenís book, popular with parents and teachers.
Shop at our Bookstore.

Units on the project are in school textbooks across Canada in both official languages. This work of art is creating an impact as it is used in a variety of projects and educational programs nationally and around the world. A documentary, which will be available in November 2012, will provide an additional resource for schools, groups, associations, and the public.

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Invitation Project