The Canadian AIDS Memorial Quilt serves as a living memory of the almost 25,000 Canadians who have died of AIDS-related causes.
As such, it is also a vivid reminder of the significant progress we have made over the past 30 years, and of the ongoing challenge that we collectively face as we make headway towards ultimately eradicating HIV from the face of the earth.
Inspired by the U.S. Quilt, the Canadian AIDS Memorial Quilt was born from the grassroots and symbolizes who we are as a movement: caring individuals who can make good things happen. In 2013 the collection was brought under the care of the Canadian AIDS Society (CAS), who became the history keepers of this historical scope of work. This is quite a responsibility as the Quilt personifies the struggle of those who have died and reminds us of the daily struggle of the 75,000 Canadians who are living with HIV today. CAS is proud to preserve this legacy and, through this web site, make the Quilt more accessible and more visible to the public than ever before. We have completely re-designed www.quilt.ca to expand its storytelling capacity — including the ability to search and view individual panels.
As you explore the web site — and witness the touching displays of various quilt panels and the poignant story behind each one — we hope that you will share our respect and admiration for the thousands of Canadians who were, and remain, affected by HIV. We believe that the Quilt must remain a living memory for generations to come — that their lives and their contributions should be remembered and celebrated in ways that honour their struggles for their right to be heard, to be treated and to live and die with dignity. It is an inspiration for us all. Let us keep their memory alive.
Music and Lyrics: Michelle Lanchester
Arrangement: Edward Connell
Performed by Forte – Toronto Gay Men’s Chorus at Trinity St. Paul’s Centre for Faith, Justice and the Arts; June 15, 2018
Here are Michelle’s words on the inspiration for writing Patchwork Quilt:
“Patchwork Quilt is dear to my heart. I still cry when I sing it. Many of my friends and loved ones have died from AIDS. Many of my friends and loved ones are now living with HIV. Patchwork reflects my experience when the “Aids Memorial Quilt” first came to National Mall in Washington, DC in 1987.
The experience was multidimensional. There was a massive P.A. system and different speakers were reading out the names of people – one by one, who had dies from AIDS. Many of the speakers were sobbing as they called out the names. This calling out of names went on for hours, the whole time that I was on site. Oh I recall the scenes of people coming to and from the site (the National Mall). All kinds of people, young, old, people in wheel chairs, people on crutches, black, white, Asian, Latino and simultaneously, the massive rows and rows of quilts, the people gathered around the quilts, touching the quilts, crying, pointing, hugging, kneeling. The quilts were divided into sections and some of the quilts were quilts with photos of babies, teenagers, cars, motorcycles, jump ropes, cheerleaders, dancers, artists, musicians, students, lawyers, mothers, fathers, daughters, sisters, brothers, lovers, chefs, teachers, oh you name it. So between the sounds, the sites, the emotions and the souls of the living and departed, I was captured by each moment, each scene.
So the song was waiting for me to come along and write and the good Lord saw fit to give me the words, melody and music to express. So, oh yes, I am indeed honored that 31 years later, people still are moved to sing this song. Bless you.”