Alberta Angels help honour families experiencing loss

By Lindsay Ducharme

Giving birth to a child should be one of the happiest moments of a person’s life, however, for some the dream becomes a nightmare when their child never leaves the hospital. Alberta Angels, a newly formed organization, seeks to ease the stress on families dealing with the loss of their infant by providing them with a final gown.

“Finding a gown that small, especially for a baby born prematurely, can be very, very difficult. When you’ve lost your baby the last thing you want to worry about is going out and looking for something for them to wear,” explained Heather Kuntz, co-creator of Alberta Angels.

“The whole reason angel dresses exists is to provide the families with something to honour the child; a beautiful gift that honours the life of that child,” she continued.

While “angel dresses” may be a relatively new term to many Albertans, the gowns, and organizations that create them, have been around for years in the U.S. and Australia. Earlier this year the first known Canadian organization was formed in Saskatchewan, with the Alberta Angels following suit in May.

“Angel dresses are made of donated wedding gowns. Our volunteer seamstresses transform the dress into tiny angel dresses,” Kuntz said.

“Angel dresses are for infants who never make it home from the hospital, whether it be from being born prematurely, stillbirths, illness and such. These babies can be born very early on in a pregnancy, all the way up until full term.”

Although the Alberta Angels have only been in operation for a few months, Kuntz said the response from residents across the province has been amazing. The group has received such a great amount of wedding dress donations that they have had to temporarily place donations on hold. Currently, the organization is focused on recruiting volunteers, specifically seamstresses who can transform the gowns into angel dresses.

“We are trying to work through the wedding gowns we have before we take new donations. We are asking new donors to keep their dresses at home for now, and we will announce on our Facebook page when we are accepting new donations,” Kuntz explained.

“We are looking for people with intermediate to advance sewing skills, they don’t have to be professionals. We are looking for volunteers throughout the province. The more seamstresses we have the faster we can get through the back log of dresses and start accepting new donations,” she continued.

Kuntz said Alberta Angels hope to eventually have a surplus of angel dresses in order to be able to send packages to each hospital across the province. While she noted that the group also accepts dress requests from families, friends and agencies, she believes having the gowns on hand at the hospital will be most beneficial “so that they are on site and available when required.”

For more information on Alberta Angels visit their website http://angeldressescanada.com/ or “like” them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AlbertaAngelDresses. Those interested in becoming a seamstress for the organization are encouraged to fill out an application form available on the website. The group will make donation requests and announcements on their Facebook page.