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Newmarket's Sacred Heart High celebrates diversity with textile art installation

This is the 13th quilt installed in a project by artist Nadine Williams called The Fabric of Our Being project
Artist Nadine Williams unveils the Fabric of Our Being quilt alongside Sacred Heart Catholic High School principal Olga Ferro and Jim VanDusen of NewRoads Automotive Group.

A textile art installation celebrating diversity unveiled at Sacred Heart Catholic High School is the 13th in artist Nadine Williams' ambitious plan to see 1,000 quilts hung locally, regionally, and internationally.  

The quilt, part of a project Williams calls The Fabric of Our Being, was unveiled Friday, Nov. 4 before an audience that included students, as well as its donor, Jim VanDusen, COO of NewRoads Automotive Group.  

Williams launched the project, and her goal to install 1,000 quilts, in 2017 in celebration of the International Decade for People of African Descent. Other quilts have been installed at a York Regional Police building, the City of Vaughan offices, Toronto’s Union Station, and at a number of school boards and various other locations. 

The quilt features a design combining Africa with Canada and the border is made of fabric representing various regions of Africa. 

“What we’re looking at here is the continent of Africa with the provinces of Canada, symbols representing the provinces,” Williams said of the design. 

While it was conceptualized and designed by Williams, Pickering residents Carole Brisebois and Michel Boisvert of In Stitches with Carole crafted the quilt. 

“I cannot stitch, so I do not take any credit for the stitches, but mind you, I intend to learn,” Williams said. 

After the unveiling, she spoke to the students gathered there, sharing a song and her poetry with them. 

She said an installation like this in a school is all about inspiring young people. 

Ava, a student at Sacred Heart and the daughter of immigrants from the Philippines, read her poem, the Perpetual Foreigner, that she wrote about her experience.

“I think that the BIPOC community, and immigrants and children of immigrants and grandchildren of immigrants all have such a variety of experiences and there’s no way I could do every single one of them justice in the three minutes I’m up here. So this piece is just a little glance into my life and myself as the daughter of two immigrants,” she said. 

Principal Olga Ferro said, “We also say at Sacred Heart that everyone is cared for and loved and welcome. We have to mean that, we can’t just put it on our posters, we can’t just say it. We need to be inclusive and welcoming regardless of who the individual is in front of us and that’s what this is all about.” 

She added she hopes in the future to have another ceremony presenting the Fabric of Our Being project to the entire school, as only a small number of students were able to attend. 

School vice-principal Danny DiLallo attended and hosted the ceremony, and attendees included VanDusen and Rachel Hawtin of NewRoads, and Newmarket Ward 6 Councillor Kelly Broome.

“Mr Jim VanDusen, I cannot thank you enough," Williams said. "This man was a complete stranger to me. I met him in his office and he said yes.”



Elizabeth Keith

About the Author: Elizabeth Keith

Elizabeth Keith is a general assignment reporter. She graduated from Carleton University with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2017. Elizabeth is passionate about telling local stories and creating community.
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