How 2 N.W.T. women connected through a tiny blanket to comfort a man with dementia

A colourful and tiny blanket to soothe a person with dementia unexpectedly connected two women in the Northwest Territories this week.

Fort Smith's Bozena Robertson made a fidget blanket for man with dementia thanks to kindness of a Yellowknifer

Bozena Robertson's first fidget blanket made to comfort people with dementia. (Submitted by Bozena Robertson)

A colourful and tiny blanket unexpectedly connected two women in the Northwest Territories this week — in what one calls a "very heartwarming" tale that's too good to be a coincidence. 

It began when Bozena Robertson from Fort Smith, N.W.T., was looking for her next project — she's already knitted hats and socks for newborns in her community, and crocheted octopuses for premature babies.

Inspiration struck while she was visiting a friend in Yellowknife earlier this month.

"I started a new pattern, this mosaic … and I didn't know what to do with it," said Robertson.

That's when Robertson says her friend suggested crocheting fidget blankets for people with dementia — sensory blankets that can comfort patients.

I was shocked at how beautiful it was.- Marina St Croix, Yellowknife resident

"We put all this stuff on it, like little ribbons and things that you can pull and curl," said Robertson. 

"When they have restless hands or they're lost in their minds somewhere ... it just helps them." 

All she needed was lots and lots of wool — so she put a call-out on a local salvagers' Facebook page and the response was huge, Robertson said.

A surprise gift for a woman's grandfather

One woman contacted Robertson with a touching story.

"One of her grandfathers passed away and he had dementia, and her other grandfather is now at [a] home also with dementia," Robertson said.

Robertson making her first fidget blanket this month. It was later gifted to Marina St Croix's grandfather. (Submitted by Bozena Robertson)

The woman left some wool outside her door for Robertson last week and using those materials, Robertson finished her first fidget blanket. She left it on the woman's doorstep on Monday as a surprise gift for her grandfather.

"She was very surprised," said Robertson.

Marina St Croix said the wool she donated to Robertson belonged to her grandmother. Her grandfather lives at AVENS, a seniors' residence in Yellowknife.

"I was shocked at how beautiful it was and how she was even able to include the twine I gave her," St Croix wrote in a Facebook message.

St Croix explained how her grandfather is Oneida Iroquois, so the gift was significant.

"Blankets hold a lot of different meanings from protection to love and comfort. It was a very fitting gift for him," she said.

St Croix said because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it's been difficult to see her grandfather. But she hopes her family will be able to pass the gift along soon.

"We have to visit him sitting in a garden through glass," she said. "I am sure he will love it when he gets it." 

St Croix's child greeting his great-grandfather through the window at AVENS. 'I am sure he will love it when he gets it,' says St Croix, about Robertson's fidget blanket gift. (Submitted by Marina St Croix)

Robertson said she believes starting this project and meeting St Croix wasn't a coincidence.

"It became a story, like I connected [with] this lady … and it's going to go to someone that's going to be using it," she said. 

"It just kind of came full circle. It's very heartwarming."

Robertson said she's crocheting more blankets and will donate her next few to residents at the Northern Lights Special Care Home in Fort Smith. She said she'll bring some to Yellowknife in August for residents there, as well.

With files from Mark Hadlari


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