Trillium grant rollout: Quilt of Belonging gets a digital upgrade

By Adam Brazeau 
CORNWALL, Ontario – When artist Esther Bryan started the Quilt of Belonging in the fall of 1998, apps were something on a menu, not your phone.

Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MPP Jim McDonell announced Wednesday a total of $56,500 in Ontario Trillium Foundation funding for the the touring textile art exhibit born in Williamstown, Ont.

The grant money is to be doled out over 12 months to create a new website with current technology, information, and educational resources in English, French, Mohawk, Ojibwe, Oji-Cree, and Inuktituk.

“The Quilt of Belonging is a tangible testimony to Ontario’s and Canada’s diversity, openness, and unity,” said McDonell at his second Trillium grant announcement of the day. “Through its tours and educational material, the quilt has brought together Canadians across generational, cultural, and geographical divides.”

Bryan celebrated the cash boost with Malcolm Robertson, board chair, Helja Thomson, volunteer coordinator, Daphne Howells, researcher/embroider, and Joanne High, staff/volunteer, at the QOB office on 2 Oak Street in Lancaster.

The quilt consists of 263 11-inch fabric squares, 70 representing all Aboriginal groups, 193 featuring all immigrant nationalities in Canada and the Canadian block.

Bryan noted that the Internet and smartphones weren’t a factor when she started what is now considered to be a national treasure, and has already had more than 1.4 million visitors while on tour in the past decade.

There are currently three local firms vying for the contract to build the new “dynamic” website and phone app.

“We plan to design new resources as well, that are interactive, fun, and relevant to students and educators at all grade levels,” said Bryan.

Quilt of Belonging partners include the Native North American Travelling College, The Debajehmujig Creation Centre, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Canadian Ethnocultural Council, Centre Charles-Emile Claude, Centre Culturel de Cornwall, and Akwesasne Area Management Board.

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