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Blanket made in Mayo honours lost children and garners global response

Vamps from across Canada and around the world sewn into blanket on way to Kamloops for healing ceremony
Velma Olsen with the blanket she made for the lost children with vamps that came from around the world. She will be taking the blanket to Kamloops for the Ceremony of Healing on Aug 9. (photo submitted)

What started out as a vision of a small framed memorial to honour the lives of the children lost in residential schools, rapidly became a symbol of global support for those impacted by residential schools across Canada and beyond.

Velma Olsen will be carrying her blanket, For the Lost Children, to Kamloops for a ceremony on Aug. 9. She will greet the Warrior Walkers as they complete their journey from Whitehorse to Kamloops.

Olsen, a member of the Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation in Mayo, put a small request out for vamps (top sections of moccasins) on Facebook for her memorial project. She put it out at the end of May, and said that the request “just blew up.”

In no time at all she was receiving vamps from around the world. Vamps with notes came in from Japan, Turkey, Hungary, New York, Hawaii, California, Alaska and from all across Canada.

She sewed them on by herself, using Melton wool for the base blanket and carefully cutting the white feathers and used fuchsia for the fireweed.

Olsen has been astounded with the response.

“I can’t believe how many people this has affected. Before this I thought it was just a Yukon thing. It opened my eyes and how big and wide the impact is, and how many people care.”

On Aug. 5 Olsen was finishing it up, hemming the blanket, and moving its weight around her home. She estimates it weighs about ten pounds now.

“It will be a warm blanket,” she said.

Olson will travel with the blanket to Kamloops after it is smudged in a special ceremony on Aug. 7 at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre in Whitehorse at 3 p.m.

Contact Lawrie Crawford at