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Return of Canadian AIDS Quilt panels are intended to REINSPiRE

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Judy Weiser looks at the panel she created for the Canadian Memorial AIDS Quilt in memory of Frederick Haineault. Photo by Michaela Baer.

Several local panels from the Canadian AIDS Quilt will return to Vancouver as the focal point of a Positive Living BC fundraiser.

Judy Weiser looks at the panel she created for the Canadian Memorial AIDS Quilt in memory of Frederick Haineault. Photo by Michaela Baer.

Judy Weiser looks at the panel she created for the Canadian Memorial AIDS Quilt in memory of Frederick Haineault. Photo by Michaela Baer.

“This is about re-engaging and re-inspiring the LGBTQ community around the issue of HIV/AIDS,” says John Bishop, Board Chair of Positive Living BC.  “There is a whole generation that has no visceral connection to the 80s and 90s during the height the AIDS crisis.  This is about helping to bring about awareness to that part of the LGBTQ community while re-inspiring the generation that lived through the crisis.”

Conceived in 1985 by San Francisco AIDS activist Cleve Jones, The NAMES Project Memorial Quilt was created to manage the collection of cloth panels designed as memorials to those who had died of AIDS.  In 1989 the quilt toured through Canada where hundreds of new panels were added.  These new panels remained in Canada and formed the first sections of the Canadian AIDS Memorial Quilt.

Since 1989, the Canadian quilt, which is managed by The NAMES Project – Canada, has grown to more than 600 three-foot by six-foot panels, each created in memory of someone who has died of AIDS.

REINSPiRE will feature panels with contributions from Vancouverites May McQueen and Judy Weiser, who will also be in attendance to tell their stories.  A volunteer with AIDS Vancouver and Positive Living BC (formerly BC Persons with AIDS Society), the 87-year old McQueen created her panel in memory of fellow volunteer Dave Trudeau.  Weiser, a director of the NAMES Project in the 90s, created her panel in memory of Frederick Haineault.

Also on display will be the panels from the palliative care unit at St. Paul’s Hospital and the “One World – One Hope” quilt based on the work by Vancouver artist Joe Average.  Last seen at the International AIDS Conference in 2006, the Joe Average quilt is nearly 1,000 square feet in size and weighs in at an impressive 350 pounds.

Pointing to the gay and bisexual male community where the HIV rate is not diminishing, Bishop says it is important to reach out and create awareness and the quilts are a powerful way to get that message out.

“We’re seeing a reduction in [HIV] numbers in all other communities except that one,” says Bishop.  “[The quilts] are extremely powerful visual images and a visual story of the 80s and 90s. They have a high emotional impact on people and we expect more than a few tears that night as people relive and recall what happened during the worst of the AIDS epidemic.  We hope that will connect with youth of today.”

REINSPiRE: Celebrating Life & Stories from the Quilt

Thursday, September 5, 2013 at the Creekside Community Recreation Centre (1 Athletes Way, Vancouver).  Tickets are $45 available at http://reinspire.eventbrite.ca or by calling us at 604.893.2242.

Proceeds support the Positive Living BC Complementary Health Fund which supports people living with HIV to purchase things such as vitamins and health services that aren’t covered by other plans.

Mark Robins on Google+

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