GRANDPARENTS’ QUILT —
The Grandparent’s Quilt is put on display to bring attention to the plight of non-custodial parents who, through no action of their own and despite court orders to the contrary, are unable to use their access rights to maintain contact with their children. This is often because the custodial parent plays fast and loose with the whereabouts of the children or doesn’t permit the court-granted access. There is a ripple effect and the grandparents (typically, it is the paternal ones) also suffer the loss of access to their grandchildren.
As The Grandparents’ Quilt travelled across the country and its story and the related issues became more well-known, grandparents in all parts of Canada embraced this project. Many wanted to see the quilt and sew their own square to be added. For many years, the quilt could be seen on display in malls, senior centres, small towns, and cities, as well as Provincial Legislatures, and even Canada’s House of Commons in Ottawa. Over the years, the quilt has become 20 feet long and is still growing.
Travelling with the quilt is a “Journal” filled with stories from grandparents who are brave enough and willing to share their heartache.
WHY A GRANDPARENTS’ QUILT?
The stories in this journal and the extraordinary effort that has gone into producing the quilt confirms that most of the grandparents who worked on squares, or who have joined with the CGRA to support its availability to communities across Canada, are in agreement on key issues. Most have contributed to these endeavours because of the following beliefs:
- Grandparents need access to their grandchildren.
- Courts need to enforce non-custodial parent’s court orders
- Mediation is preferable for family divorce where communication and listening is do-able
- Decisions should be made “in the best interests of the child”
- Canada’s public needs to be concerned and speak out.
THE GRANDPARENTS’ QUILT IN ALBERTA
Work undertaken by our former CGRA Alberta Director Florence Knight was instrumental in encouraging Alberta to pass a Grandparents Bill in 1998. Florence, a National Director with CGRA, and Annette Bruce of Orphaned Grandparents Association, worked together on a special and very necessary crusade to make the Alberta Legislative aware of the need for legislation regarding grandchildren and grandparents.
In 1996 they approached Heather Forsyth, MLA for Calgary Fish Creek (then Solicitor General) to make changes to legislation regarding grandparents and access. Heather Forsyth proposed Bill 204 as a private member’s bill. It was passed, and received Royal Assent May 29, 1997. Bill 204 amended the Provincial Court Act to grant grandparents access rights their grandchildren.
The bill extends access rights to grandparents in cases where a parent or parents prevent grandchildren from visiting their grandparents without just and serious cause. The Bill’s objective was to support and protect the grandparent/grandchild relationship, providing that it is in the best interest of the child. Grandparents can now approach the court and apply to be able to visit their grandchildren.
The Grandparent’s Hearts and Hands quilt was also on display for Law Day, April 20 at the Stanley A. Milner library downtown.