The Canadian AIDS Memorial Quilt serves as a living memory of the almost 25,000 Canadians who have died of AIDS-related causes.
In the beginning of the AIDS crisis many people who died of AIDS-related causes did not receive funerals—due to both the social stigma of AIDS and the outright refusal by many funeral homes and cemeteries to handle the remains of the deceased. Lacking a memorial service or grave site, the Memorial Quilt was often the only opportunity survivors had to remember and celebrate the lives of their loved ones.
In 2013 the collection was brought under the care of the Canadian AIDS Society. This is quite a responsibility for us 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.
Since receiving the quilts, the Canadian AIDS Society has committed to showcasing them to Canadians and tell the story of those we have lost in the AIDS epidemic. However, we are struggling in our capacity to both care for the quilts and to adequately display them and tell their story around Canada.
Maintaining the quality of the quilts is costly, as the quilts require particular storing conditions and ongoing care to prevent them from deteriorating due to their age and fragility.
Lack of funding from the government also means we are unable to follow in the footsteps of the Quilts project of the United States, and properly digitize the quilts to today’s standard. Using the funding, we would create an awareness tool in the form of tabletop digital displays that could showcase the digitized quilts in museums, galleries, academic institutions and community centres.
Help us keep the memory alive of those we’ve lost to AIDS by supporting the Canadian AIDS Memorial Quilt project, and remember each and every one of them through the memories of the lives they lived, created by their friends, their families, and their partners.