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This article was published 24/6/2016 (364 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
For the next week, Manitobans will be able to glimpse hand-stitched Scottish history.
The Scottish Diaspora Tapestry is on display in the lobby of the Manitoba Legislative Building.
The tapestry consists of 305 panels, all hand-embroidered by volunteers from 34 countries.Volunteers were asked to send in stories and images of their own Scottish heritage to help create templates for the tapestry. The panels depict pieces of Scottish history from various countries, with each panel taking approximately 200 hours to stitch, for a total of over 60,000 hours.
Twenty-seven Manitoban embroiderers hand-stitched seven panels depicting the history of the Scots in Manitoba, including the history of the fur trade, the Lord Selkirk Settlers, the Battle of Seven Oaks, and the Métis community.
One of those embroiderers is Lorraine Iverach, who jumped at the chance to contribute. She is a member of the Lord Selkirk Association of Rupert's Land and is a descendant of the Selkirk Settlers.
"It's absolutely thrilling to have been a part of it," she said. "We had only seen pictures of the other panels, so to see them now in person and to realize that our humble contribution is part of this jaw-dropping display — it's absolutely thrilling."
Baron Gordon of Prestoungrange has helped spearhead this project since its beginnings in Prestonpans, Scotland. He's also a member of the Prestoungrange Arts Festival and said the tapestry was developed to promote the socio-economic state of Prestonpans as well as Scotland Homecoming in 2014.
He said the town of nearly 8,000 was originally a coal-mining town until the pits were shut in the 1960s. "The place has been full of unemployment and everything else ever since for the older people," he said.
"The town sort of lost its sense of direction and sense of purpose."
In 1997, the Prestoungrange Arts Fesitval began collecting the history of the town dating back nearly a thousand years. "We went right back to the origins and started writing the history, painting murals on walls, writing poetry and making plays," said the baron.
"We focused on the history of the town because we were trying to give the town back its own sense of significance and community."
In 2010, the Arts Festival and local embroiderers created the Prestonpans Tapestry to celebrate the Battle of Prestonpans in 1745.
"The ladies had itchy fingers. Having done one, they wanted to do another," said the baron.
He said the Diaspora Tapestry has transformed the image of the rural and industrial Prestonpans. "This was a hard community that had lost its way and had it all taken away," he said. "[It] absolutely made a difference. The arts impact has been very good indeed. So it's yet one more place that believes the use of the arts, the creative use of the arts and the involvement of the arts in the whole community can make an impact on self-esteem."
The tapestry has been on a world tour since last September and has been displayed throughout Europe, Australia and New Zealand. After its stop in Winnipeg, it will move on to Wisconsin, Toronto, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Montreal before returning to the UK. Eventually, the tapestry will be permanently housed in a museum in Prestonpans.
The tapestry is on display at the Manitoba Legislature until Sunday, July 3.
For more information on the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry, visit www.scottishdiasporatapestry.org