the burn toronto

Toronto is letting people burn stuff to cleanse away three years of misery

March 2020 is best remembered as the month everything went to hell, but three years after the world shut down, Toronto is on the path toward economic and spiritual recovery.

The city is marking the third anniversary of the pandemic's onset with a commemorative gathering at Nathan Phillips Square this coming Saturday that will feature a sombre memorial, including a fire-based art installation meant to cleanse away the pain of the past three years.

An Indigenous welcome, Ancestral Acknowledgement and formal remarks will kick off the March 11 memorial at sunset.

The commemorative gathering will also include a moment of silence to recognize those lost during the pandemic, an appearance by Juno award-winning singer-songwriter Jully Black, and will mark the final appearance of an interpretive art installation where people can burn off lingering emotions pent up since 2020.

Known as The Burn, the interactive installation from award-winning artist Roger Mooking, working with artist and designer Javid JAH and multi-disciplinary artist and Wyandot Elder Catherine Tammaro, allows visitors to place cedar spheres in fire pits to let go of the past through cleansing incineration.

the burn toronto city hall

With stops at Mackenzie House, Elmbank Community Centre, as well as Toronto City Hall, the installation has been active since mid-January and concludes this weekend.

"The Burn at Nathan Phillips Square is an opportunity for the people of this city to heal individually and collectively," said artist Roger Mooking.

"As a community, we come together to share in these moments and lean on one another to find a way forward. Love Only Beyond This Point."

the burn toronto city hall

It will work in conjunction with other elemental-themed installations during the March 11 gathering, including a water-themed Integration Zone in the City Hall Rotunda with 24 hours of programming.

Mental health and grief counselling support will also be provided during the event.

"These past three years have been some of the most challenging in our city's history, said Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie."

"I invite residents to join the Commemorative Gathering at Nathan Phillips Square to reflect on the impact the pandemic has had on each of us and our city, honour those whose lives were lost, and pay tribute to the frontline and essential workers who kept our loved ones safe, and our city running."

Photos by

City of Toronto


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