Quilts of Valour – Canada Society sewing up a heartfelt thanks to veterans

Quilts of Valour Society Canada

Lynn Carroll (front row, third left), Quilts of Valour Society Canada representative for Southern Vancouver Island, gathers with members of the Esquimalt Transition Centre for a group photo in December 2021 after receiving a Poinsettia as recognition for her volunteerism. Carroll and her organization have teamed up with the Transition Centre to distribute hand-made quilts to injured military veterans. Photo courtesy of Transition Centre

Peter Mallett 
Staff Writer  


A troop of dedicated quilters is providing warmth, comfort, and gratitude to Canada’s injured veterans. Armed with the tools of the trade – scissors, rotary cutters, stitch rippers, and sewing machines – members of the non-profit Quilts of Valour – Canada Society (QOVC) are on a mission to wrap quilts of comfort around ill or injured Canadian military veterans.

Since commencing operations in 2006, QOVC has distributed 18,409 quilts across the country.

Nora Johnson, Service Coordinator for the Transition Centre at CFB Esquimalt, says the efforts of QOVC are very beneficial.

“I think this is a wonderful initiative that is allowing people outside of the Department of National Defence to recognize military members’ contributions,” she says. “They are truly beautiful gifts and a heartfelt way to recognize people who have been injured in their service.”

A few years ago, QOVC on Vancouver Island teamed up with the Transition Centre at CFB Esquimalt to distribute quilts on Southern Vancouver Island. The centre is part of the Canadian Armed Forces Transition Group network and works with Veterans Affairs Canada and other partners to provide professional, personalized, and standardized transition services to discharging Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members.

Johnson adds the gratitude is a two-way street and being recognized in this manner is a morale booster for veterans as well.

National Movement

The charity was founded by Lezley Zwaal, who says its origins stem from a personal visit she made to an Edmonton hospital back in 2006. Zwaal, who now lives in Parksville, B.C., had seen the news about three CAF members recovering from wounds received in Afghanistan, and gave them each a QOV as an expression of gratitude and comfort.

“A Quilt of Valour is a hug from a grateful nation,” says Zwaal.

As with any charitable organization, they couldn’t do what they do without volunteers.

A determined Lynn Carroll of Cobble Hill is one of those volunteers. The retiree spearheads QOVCs efforts to recruit volunteer quilters on Southern Vancouver Island and works closely with the Transition Centre to match up the right veteran with the right quilt.

Carroll, 75, is a former secretary and cattle rancher from Alberta who joined QOVC after making her first quilt for them in 2018. Today, she is one 55 QOVC regional representatives across the country responsible helping the organization.

Tears of Joy

After her experience of presenting a quilt to a veteran at a rescue dog training centre in Qualicum Beach, Carroll says she was instantly convinced QOVC was the charity for her. As she left the event, she was approached by the quilt recipient in the facility’s parking lot, who told her he was delighted it matched the interior of his Recreational Vehicle (RV).

“He was in tears and told me you have no idea how much this quilt means to me,” Carroll remembers. “Really, it is this sort of gratitude, appreciation, and positive feedback that I hear that keeps me going.”

A Cottage Industry

Each quilt made needs to be authenticated, numbered, and tracked with an official Quilt of Valour label. The ID number, name of the quilt maker, and name of the recipient are then stored in the charity database. Labelling the quilt also gives the recipient proof this is an authentic, handmade item. 

Quilting is a time-consuming occupation. It can take up to 40 hours to make a quilt from scratch depending on the equipment available and the skill level of the quilter. Many quilts take longer. The finished product doesn’t come cheap either; similar handmade quilts in retail outlets sell for $500 to $1,000.

QOVC volunteers from across the country have been working overtime these days to make up for a backlog of quilt requests because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the recent relaxing of provincial health guidelines on social distancing, a Quilting Bee event was held at Royal Canadian Legion Branch 134 in Shawnigan Lake. Carroll teamed up with members of the Young Seniors Action Group (YSAG) for a day of quilting.

The gathering was a cottage industry of activity she reports, with a network of sewing machines, extension cords, ironing boards, piles of fabric and materials, and copious amounts of tea on hand as the quilters sewed their magic.

“In the end, they we had such a good time the group has agreed to meet again in the near future for another day of quilting,” says Carroll. 

For more information, request a quilt, donate, or how to get involved visit www.quiltsofvalour.ca.

Quilts of Valour Society Canada

Quilts of Valour Society Canada quilter Daphne Greig shows off one of her colourful designs with Lynn Carroll. Photo: Quilts of Valour Society Canada.

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