A CLOTH LETTER TO THE YOUNG PEOPLE OF TOHOKU REGION OF NORTHERN JAPAN FROM YOUNG CANADIANS
As the terrible details of the earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan unfolded before our eyes on this side of the Pacific, a feeling of such deep sadness filled me, and people everywhere in the world.And as friends and families from Japan began to make contact with me, they always talked about the children.
The earthquake shook northern Japan in mid-afternoon Japan time, when children were in school and kindergarten. One friend phoned and said when the shaking stopped, she drove as fast as she could to the kindergarten to find her two children. She said all of the children were crying. Her youngest daughter was wouldn't stop making the sounds like things crashing all around her.
Many of the areas that were destroyed and damaged are close knit rural communities.Farming villages like the one that I grew up in as a child in southern Alberta, and small towns like the one that I have been living in, in south Japan.And I have two grandchildren.The first thing they said about the Japan earthquake was, they were happy that I am here in Vancouver and not in Japan.
This is how the quilt project began. A day after the earthquake, a dream about the young people and we could help them to know that there are young people in other parts of the world that care and think about them at this time.
So the idea to have children draw on cloth and embroider these drawings was developed. The Kids for Kids Quilt Project. Cloth because it is more durable to travel. Embroidery because it makes the drawing colorful and more permanent. On does not need to know Japanese or English. They can share their feelings through their drawings.
That morning after the dream, a farming family from the Peace River country of northern Alberta happened to phone me to see if I was okay. These were people I met after making the film,“The Last Harvest” and toured the family farm area of Peace River, going from one farming community to the next, like a relay through small towns. The communities in Peace River wanted to help some how. So the idea of making quilt pieces and then sending it from one community to the next community and the next and the next started. Before I knew it,Peace River was participating, then southern Alberta, then Calgary, then southern Saskatchewan, then Greater Vancouver, Bowen Island, Vancouver Island, and Manitoba. Tonight southern Ontario schools joined in.The power of young people! In the end, we will sew each area’s section together into one large quilt and send it to Japan. Our aim is to have it hanging in a small farming community, addressed to the young people from the young people of Canada on July 1 Canada Day. After that, the quilt letter will go to the next community, and the next community and the next. To farming villages, towns, and cities in northern Japan. From what Ihear from friends in Japan, it is not only the money, but knowing that people in the world care about them---makes them regain the energy of hope. Kids for Kids is a project being organized by my daughters, Kris, Kim, Caitlin, and myself. This is what it is about. Caring for each other.