Stitching stories of loss

Young workers are more likely than other workers to be hurt or killed on the job – that’s what the statistics say. But the statistics can’t portray the stories of these young lives interrupted, or of the overwhelming grief and chaos left behind. In creating the LifeQuilt, designer Laurie Swim, the quilters and the families of the young workers tried to capture all of that. Their goal was not only to honour and remember their loved ones, but to prevent the same loss to other families.

The entire quilt tapestry measures roughly 3 x 6m (9’ x 18’). The LifeQuilt's centre focal image honours 100 young workers injured on the job. Flanking the focal image are one hundred commemorative blocks, each portraying a young worker who died on the job. Like the young people they represent, each commemorative block is unique.

LifeQuilt artist Laurie Swim uses the process of quilt building to build community as well, involving members of the community affected. The LifeQuilt brings together families who have lost loved ones, as well as those injured at work. It offers them an opportunity to share their stories in a unique way and in a way that contributes to the goal of prevention.

The LifeQuilt was completed and first unveiled on National Day of Mourning, April 28, 2003.