June 12, 2023National Indigenous History Month & Quilts for Survivors

June is National Indigenous History Month, a time to recognize the history, heritage, and diversity of Indigenous Peoples in Canada, as well as acknowledge the hardships they endured in the face of genocide. At the RCA, we take great pride in honoring Indigenous culture throughout the year, whether its featuring talented Indigenous artists or organizing special events like the Indigenous Resilience Festival. We strive to create a space that celebrates and showcases the richness of Indigenous experiences. 

Currently in our Alex Fong Galleria, you will find Quilts for Survivors, a collection of mesmerizing, hand-made quilts decorated with Indigenous imagery. Through a nation-wide collective effort of volunteers, quilters from across Canada have crafted these full-sized blankets which will then each be sent to survivors of the Residential School System. These quilts were curated by the Orchard Valley Quilters Guild, an artist group which has been part of the Kelowna community for 40 years. We are honoured to display these works of art here at the RCA and help bring light to the ill effects of residential schools.  

“When you are making quilts for a survivor of residential schools, you have many hours to reflect on her/his childhood experiences" says Linda Hall, Head of Publicity for the Orchard Valley Quilters Guild. "My quilt is threaded with thoughts of sorrow, loss but also hope for the future.” 

“These quilts are a symbol of support, respect, and love” says the Orchard Valley Quilters Guild. 

Quilts for Survivors was founded by Vanessa Genier, an Indigenous mother from Missanabie First Nation in Ontario. With her passion for quilting, she created a Facebook group asking other quilters to make quilt blocks to honour residential school survivors. The initiative took off from there, and Quilts for Survivors was born. 

“A quilt is love sewn together to bring people together.” - Vanessa Genier 

The quilts on display at the RCA are being gifted to survivors of Residential Schools, Day School, and Indian Hospitals who are members or reside in Westbank First Nation. Come see them in person until July 30th. Please note that these works are not available for purchase.  

Immersing oneself in Indigenous culture is of paramount importance as it fosters a deeper understanding, appreciation, and respect for the rich diversity and heritage of Indigenous peoples. By actively engaging with their traditions, languages, art forms, and rituals, individuals can gain valuable insights into their unique ways of life, wisdom, and holistic connection with the natural world. Check out Kelowna Museums for Indigenous events taking place in Kelowna. https://www.kelownamuseums.ca/indigenous/ 

Kelowna and the RCA are situated on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded tm̓xʷúlaʔxʷ (land) of the Syilx/Okanagan people who have resided here since time immemorial. 

National Indigenous History Month & Quilts for Survivors