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The Thread That Binds

The Embroiderers’ Association of Canada (EAC) is eager to make a connection with Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) military members and their families with through their Military Outreach Initiative.

Embroidering is more than just a hobby for members, it is a way of connecting within their communities and making lifelong friendships.

“We have a deep respect for the military and what they do. Our guilds are all across Canada, and we are opening our doors to the men and women of the CAF and their families. They are known for their discipline and embroidery certainly requires that,” said Beryl Bernette, president, Embroidery Association of Canada.

Given this situation and numerous suggestions from retired CAF members, the EAC board of directors created the Military Outreach Initiative.

The intent of the initiative is to reach out to currently serving military personnel and military spouses who are stitchers or want-to-be stitchers and introduce then to EAC. As EAC is a national level organization, it can provide a common connection wherever members find themselves posted.

For those whose spouse is deployed or away for extended periods of time EAC membership offers the opportunity of support and friendship.

Now more than 40 years old, with 45 chapters and more than 1,500 members from all across Canada and beyond, the EAC is a vital and exciting organization. Many guilds are in the same cities and towns as CAF wings, bases, and stations.

According to the EAC website, EAC membership offers many benefits including, an annual seminar held in a different Canadian location each year.

The Winnipeg Embroiderer’s Guild, the first EAC chapter, sponsored the first two seminars. Participants came from across Canada and the United States. Annual seminars were held at various Canadian locales after that, and EAC began to gain members and chapters.

“The annual seminar is an opportunity to take classes from accomplished national and international designers and teachers. Last year we had guests from South Africa, the United States, and Australia. It’s a time of fellowship and sharing,” said Bernette.

Through the EAC, grants, contests, and fun activities are available to all members, to further their knowledge of needlework, support educational opportunities, and to sponsor travel to seminars. Embroidery Canada Magazine is another benefit of membership. It is printed quarterly, featuring needlework news, articles, and designs.

Membership also gives members access to a lending library with extensive holdings in a wide variety of needlework techniques.

A cyber EAC chapter makes fellowship available to anyone, anywhere. Online subscribers can also improve their skills through connecting with like minded individuals or join one of the many virtual group chats or courses taking place across the country.

“There is a stereotype that embroidery is only cross stitch. You just have to take a look at our website to see it is much, much, more than that one type of stitch. There is so much to try and so much to learn, but the main benefit people see is the fellowship; it’s fun learning and producing something together,” said Bernette.

Membership in local chapters or guilds gives people the opportunity to regularly meet and to study and interact with other stitchers.

“Youth chapters, or guilds allow young people under the age of twenty-one to be mentored, make friends, and learn the art of embroidery. Stitching brings them together,” said Bernette.

The idea for a national Embroiderer’s Association began with a small group of dedicated embroiderers who met in Winnipeg, in the studio of Leonida Leatherdale. Letters were sent to needlework groups and guilds across Canada.

The first formal organizational meeting was held September 27, 1973. With the aid of competent legal advice, bylaws were drafted and approved by the federal government, and in November of 1974 the Embroiderers’ Association of Canada, Incorporated and officially came into existence. The head office was in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the geographic center of Canada, where, it was felt, EAC could grow to the east and to the west.

To learn more about the Embroiders’ Association of Canada please visit their website. (http://eac.ca)

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