Memorial blanket for COVID-19 victims to contain more than 9,000 squares

By Sylvia Keesmaat

There is a long history of Canadians knitting during times of crisis. In the past, knitting provided a very tangible service. One need only think of care packages sent to soldiers during the First World War and Second World War, containing hand-knitted socks for soldiers.

During the current pandemic crisis, a group of local knitters want to use their skills in a way that would be similarly helpful. In this case, however, the end result will be a memorial blanket for all of those who have died in Canada due to COVID-19.

Heather Breadner, Amanda Sharpe, and Ally Day conceived of the project as a way to bring comfort to those who have lost loved ones, and to help remember each individual who has died during the pandemic.

Even though Breadner has not experienced the loss of a family member or friend to Covid-19, she points out that, “as Canadians, we all care about each other.”

“To me it was important for family members not to feel that they had to bear the burden alone of some kind of memorial, especially since so many people could not take on an appropriate celebration of life.”

In addition, as the pandemic evolves across the country, Breadner felt that the human stories of the virus’ reach were being left out.

“That is what sparked the idea. This was something we felt we could do so that those personal memories would not fade away.”

The blanket will consist of one knitted 12” x 12” square for each person who has died in Canada due to the pandemic. Knitters are being recruited from across the country to commit to knitting a  square. At the moment, the blanket will have approximately 9,000 squares and will weigh 1,500 lbs (680 kg).

When finished, the blanket will be toured across the country with an accompanying book that contains more information and, if the families are willing, photographs of those who have died in the pandemic.

Breadner emphasizes that a key part of the project is respect for the families of those who have died.

By registering on the project page, families can ensure that they share as much — or as little —information as they wish about their loved one.

Since launching the project last week, there has been an outpouring of support.

Almost 300 knitters have registered and donations are starting to come in to assist with the touring costs. Non-crafter volunteers have also come forward to help with putting the blanket together and other logistical tasks that accompany a project this size.

“It is a week since we launched the initiative and we are so grateful for the response we are getting,” says Breadner.

“Now we just need to spread the word throughout Canada.”

If you are interested in knitting for this project, volunteering in another way, or making a donation, visit here for more information.

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