Veteran Arts and Craft Program Quilt

Date / Period
Object Type
Textiles and Uniforms
Canadian Red Cross
Community Health

In 1945, the Canadian Red Cross partnered with Canada’s Department of Veterans’ Affairs to run art therapy programs in Canadian hospitals where veterans were receiving care. Patients in these programs learned and practiced handicrafts of various kinds, and produced a variety of items such as this quilt from 1953.

The program inaugurated in 1945 built on experience from the First World War, when handicrafts were adopted as activities for convalescing soldiers overseas and at home. Though sometimes conceived simply as “ward occupations,” handicrafts were also part of the occupational therapy and retraining programs initiated under the Department of Soldier Civilian Re-establishment, a forerunner of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

The Canadian Red Cross maintained programs begun at the end of the Second World War into the 1990s, when the host facilities took over administration. The legacy of the program lives on in facilities such as the George Derby Centre in Burnaby, British Columbia. Opened in a barracks in 1947, the George Derby Centre originally provided “physical and occupational therapy, as well as job retraining, to help WWII veterans reintegrate into society following acute care hospitalization and treatment.” Relocated to a new building in 1988, the centre’s focus became community health for its long-term residents, and it continues to run the Arts Studio rooted in the Canadian Red Cross arts and crafts programs begun decades earlier.

Art therapy can be more than a pleasant way to pass time on one’s own. Participants in arts and crafts programs have the opportunity to develop a greater awareness of their surroundings, and of the art to which they are exposed. Reflecting on their impressions and expressing their views through their handicraft is a creative process central to human culture that can be mentally and emotionally rewarding. Arts and crafts are also taught and practiced in social settings, and participants can benefit by interacting with instructors, staff, and volunteers, as well as with other participants.

Veteran Arts and Craft Program Quilt

Support Veteran Arts and Craft 1
Support Veteran Arts and Craft 2

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