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A North Van artist is stitching together a tribute to Lynn Valley following stabbing tragedy

Community contributions are sought for massive project
Berene Campbell’s latest community art project hits particularly close to home. 

Over the years, Campbell, a modern quilter, designer and community organizer, has dedicated herself to sharing the love and helping places heal that have experienced a lot of pain.

In 2013, Campbell started a project of solidarity for the people of Boston, Mass., following a bombing attack that killed three people during the annual Boston Marathon. Under Campbell’s tutelage, quilters from around the world sent in their works to help uplift a downtrodden and demoralized city.

In 2018, following a deadly van attack that devastated Toronto, Campbell – who was living in the city at the time – initiated a project to hang a series of colourful quilted banners in order to spread a message of hope and peace at the site of the incident where 10 people were killed.

And now, Campbell is launching a similar project in response to the tragic attack that occurred at the Lynn Valley Village complex in late March – just a few kilometres from where she and her family live.  

“This particular one is really close to home – that’s my library, that’s my supermarket,” says Campbell. “The week before that occurred, my son and his girlfriend had gone to the library at the exact same time. You can’t help but have that play through your head, what if that had been a week later.…”

On March 27, six people were injured and one woman was killed following a tragic and seemingly random stabbing spree that started in the library before spilling out into the village complex. A 28-year-old Quebec man was arrested and is facing second-degree murder charges in connection with the incident.

In collaboration with Lynn Valley library, the District of North Vancouver and North Vancouver Recreation and Culture Commission, Campbell has launched her new Lynn Valley LOVE Project in order to support a community that’s continuing to heal and move forward in the wake of the tragic attack.

Sewing and healing

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

For the intermediate and above sewers out there, Campbell is looking for help to create a series of banners with messages of love and hope that will be installed at the library later this summer. Experienced quilters and guilds can read more details on that aspect of the project by visiting Campbell’s Happy Sew Lucky website. The deadline to submit a component for this project is July 7. 

For the community at large who may have no sewing experience, Campbell is asking contributors to hand stitch a felt “X” onto a piece of white cotton fabric, using embroidery thread and a simple running stitch using a downloadable pattern.

The blocks will then be assembled by Campbell into a large “LOVE” cross stitch design which will be installed near the library lobby. The deadline to submit a component for this project is June 15.

“This component is designed for the general public. It involves a sewing component, but it’s a really simple sewing component based on the idea of subliminally stitching the community back together,” says Campbell.

Both projects are set to be unveiled by Campbell later this summer.

Contributions to the projects can be mailed to or dropped off at Lynn Valley library. Campbell’s website lists a number of places where people can find supplies, however you can stop by Lynn Valley library between May 13 and 16 to pick up a free sewing kit on a first-come, first-served basis which will include instructions.

“On an individual basis, there is something incredibly healing about being creative,” she says. “And of course, there’s the collective energy aspect of it. … It becomes a kind of collective healing energy.”

Lynn Valley Remembers

The community art project is the next stage in the district’s ongoing efforts to support the community in the wake of the attack.

Recently, a makeshift memorial that grew to include hundreds of bouquets and flowers to honour the victims was dismantled, according to the district.

In its place two new planter boxes were installed in the plaza that have been filled with flowers and mementos from that initial roadside memorial.

District staff have been collecting many of the wilted flowers from that initial memorial to preserve for compost that could be used in a future memorial garden, the district has said. 

In the meantime, Campbell is ready to give back to Lynn Valley by imparting some of the calming and healing effects of stitching by hand.

“It’s amazing to be able to work with the community to give back in this way.”

Visit the North Vancouver District Public Library website for full details.