There is a most unique quilt hidden away in two large suitcases in office L353 at Saint Paul University.
The Justice Storytelling Quilt hosts 27 English quilt blocks and 13 French; each block was created by a victim, an offender or a family member and the blocks represent their stories.
With the aid of a computer, a click on any of the blocks allows participants to listen to the person tell his/her story, while looking at the block on the actual quilt. The stories are heartbreaking and sometimes extremely difficult to listen to: a wife whose husband unsuccessfully attempted to kill her; a man who intended to commit a robbery but instead ended up murdering someone; a woman who expresses empathy for the teen who killed her husband; a man who shares his pain after a drunk driver kills his father; a step-daughter whose step-father sexually abused her from the time she was four-years old.
Funding from the Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada has now made the quilt much more accessible. An interactive version is now available at: ccjc.ca/current-projects/
The purpose of The Justice Storytelling Quilt is ultimately an attempt to humanize justice by hearing people speak from their hearts about what they have been through and what they need to help them recover.
Creating the quilt, and their individual blocks, helped these victims, offenders and family members find understanding and meaning and realize that life can still be good and worth living, despite the suffering and horror they have been through. Ultimately, the quilt was designed to bring people together to empathize with the suffering, hope and courage of victims, offenders and family members.
A diverse range of materials was used in the blocks including: pieces of baby quilts; photographs; a triathlon ribbon; a feather; beads. A number of the blocks contain similar images including the sun, flowers, hearts, and people.
The Justice Storytelling Quilt debuted during Restorative Justice Week 2005. During that week, the quilt was exhibited at the Ottawa Court House, Ottawa City Hall, Justice Canada and Saint Paul University. During Restorative Justice Week 2020 (November 16-22), it is hoped that the quilt can be displayed again at these four locations as a part of its 15th anniversary.
The Church Council on Justice and Corrections is a national faith-based coalition of eleven founding churches, created in 1974, to promote a restorative approach to justice with an emphasis on addressing the needs of victims and offenders.
To book the quilt for an event in Canada, please contact Bonnie Weppler at firstname.lastname@example.org or 613-563-1688.