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‘It amazes me what these women could do’

Gerrie Akkermann, who immigrated to Canada in 1954 said she found it inspiring to learn about pioneering Canadian women while completing a quilting project in honour of Canada's 150th anniversary.
Gerrie Akkermann, who immigrated to Canada in 1954 said she found it inspiring to learn about pioneering Canadian women while completing a quilting project in honour of Canada's 150th anniversary. - Adam MacInnis

New Canadian finds stories woven into quilting project inspiring

STELLARTON, N.S. —

STELLARTON, N.S. – She moved to Canada from Holland in 1954, but still considers herself a new Canadian.

It’s part of what motivated Gerrie Akkermann to take part in a quilting project in honour of Canada’s 150th Birthday in 2017.

The way this particular project worked is that quilters received three patterns a week for 50 weeks each with a unique design. Along with each square was a story about a pioneering woman from Canada’s history.

As she sewed the squares together, Akkermann would have the opportunity to learn about each of these women. She enjoyed reading the stories about women like Marilyn Bell, who was the first person to swim across Lake Ontario. That story brought back memories of the woman’s feats that had filled newspapers, when Akkermann first moved to Canada in 1954.

“It was amazing what these women could do.”

When she was done sewing all the squares, Akkermann brought it into the Museum of Industry where she is part of a quilting group. Together they hand quilted every seam. While they worked they talked about some of the inspiring women and often had a chance to talk to visitors about what they were working on. It took about six months to complete.

She said for the women it doesn’t matter how long the project took, it was about the fun.

There were a couple times she wondered if she’d ever finish the project, but then she would go back to the stories of the inspiring women and it would push her to continue.

“If they can do it, I can do it in my nice warm sewing room.”

The finished project is now on display at the Museum of Industry for others to see as well as a binder filled with the stories of the 150 inspiring women.

“We’re very proud to be able to display it here until the end of October,” said Denise Taylor Marketing Services Officer for the Museum of Industry.

Taylor said there are a couple women with Pictou County connections that have been included in the list of 150 pioneering women.

One is Viola Desmond, who took a stand against segregation by refusing to leave her seat in the white only section of the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow.

The other is Major Margaret C. MacDonald from Bailey’s Brook . MacDonald was a military nurse during the First World War and was the first woman to be given a “Major” military rank in the British Empire. She was awarded the Royal Red Cross and the Florence Nightingale Award for her work.

“What a great way for people to learn more about Canadian heritage,” she said.

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