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Love and community shine through in art projects following Lynn Valley stabbing tragedy

Community-made quilts, stitched banners and hand-painted blocks dot the library months after attack
The unveiling of a number of new community art projects to honour victims of the Lynn Valley stabbing tragedy is proof that a community that stitches together sticks together.

On Monday (July 19), heads were turning and camera phones were flashing as a series of quilted tributes were hung from the rafters overlooking the main stairwell of Lynn Valley library.

Onlookers didn’t have to guess what the installation was for.

On March 27, six people were stabbed and one woman was killed during a tragic and seemingly random stabbing spree that started in the library before spilling out into the Lynn Valley Village complex.

A 28-year-old Quebec man was arrested and is facing second-degree murder charges in connection with the incident.

While crowdfunding campaigns were kicked off to support victims and makeshift memorials replete with several English garden’s worth of flowers were set up following the attack, the community has still had to grapple with one constant question: how do you move forward after being rocked by tragedy?

While there’s no easy answer to that question, the purpose of North Vancouver artist and organizer Berene Campbell’s Lynn Valley LOVE Project is to remind the community that, at the very least, they’re not forgotten.

“There’s lots of different reasons why people participate in this,” says Campbell. “I think what’s really neat about it is how those projects represent literally hundreds of people coming together to support the community. With the cross-stitch project we had well over 1,000 X-blocks sent in.”

In collaboration with the library, the District of North Vancouver and North Vancouver Recreation and Culture Commission, Campbell put a community call-out for her project in May.

Depending on skill and experience level, there was two ways for the community to get involved.

Intermediate and above quilters were beckoned to help create a series of banners with messages of love and hope, and novices got to contribute by hand-stitching a colourful felt “X” onto a piece of white cotton fabric and sending it in.

Campbell then took all the components to create two larger pieces that are now on display – 68 exquisite banners made by hundreds of individuals and guild members located in the library stairwell, as well as a giant banner that reads “LOVE” made from the thousands of contributed X-stitches located at the library’s entrance.

“It’s very much engrained in the culture of quilting,” says Campbell. “You go to any guild meeting and every meeting has an item about charity quilting.”

For Campbell – who’s organized similarly epic quilting projects following a bombing attack that killed three people during the annual Boston Marathon in 2013 and after a deadly van attack that devastated Toronto in 2018 – this project hit particularly close to home.

The Lynn Valley resident says she’s amazed how interest in the project stretched from her local community all the way across North America, with quilting contributions coming in from individuals and guilds as far east as Nova Scotia, as well as from U.S. states like North Carolina and Oregon.

Local contributions were received from guilds such as Lions Gate Quilters’ Guild, Seymour Quilters Guild, and the Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild.

“The initiatives and contributions that Lynn Valley has received reflect the courage, strength, and vibrancy of our neighbourhood – and will serve as a reminder of community healing and love in the years to come,” says Jacqueline van Dyk, North Vancouver District Public Library’s director of library services.

On Friday (July 23), an additional public art project in honour of the victims of the Lynn Valley incident was installed at the other entrance to the library.

Lead by Lynn Valley artist Caroline Liggett and sponsored by United Way British Columbia, more than 100 blocks were painted with hearts by community members and arranged on the walls of the library’s secondary entrance near Delany’s Coffee Shop.

“When we put the call out for the first 60 blocks, they were all gone in hours,” says Liggett. “It’s a little bit of a voice. The art becomes a voice. Something dark happened, love conquers that.”