People & Culture

Reflecting on Canada Day

Reimagine Canada Day will give Ottawa residents the chance to reflect, learn — and reimagine — following the discovery in the past month of hundreds of children's bodies on the former sites of residential schools

  • Jun 25, 2021
  • 443 words
  • 2 minutes
Expand Image

As the country grieved the discovery of 215 children’s bodies buried on the grounds of Kamloops Indian Residential School in B.C. in May, a group of friends and colleagues around Ottawa came together to create an alternative way to recognize Canada Day: Reimagine Canada Day. Their idea for a reimagining became ever more relevant as more unmarked graves were discovered in June, including more than 700 at the former site of the Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan.   

The day is intended to give Ottawa’s residents a chance to reflect on and learn more about Canada.

The group, which includes Project of Heart’s Sylvia Smith, has curated a five-stop tour of the city with both digital and in-person components. The tour itinerary includes:

Stop 1

The 50 Sussex Heart Garden at the headquarters of Canadian Geographic and the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, established by RCGS employees and local volunteers to honour the 215 children, now includes hearts contributed from across the community as a part of the honouring.

Stop 2

Beechwood Cemetery is the site where Duncan Campbell Scott and Nicholas Flood Davin — both architects of the residential school system — are buried, as well as Dr. Peter Henderson Bryce — early whistleblower on the preventable deaths occurring at residential schools. The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society host walking tours that pass through the cemetery.

Stop 3

At Akikojiwan (Chaudière Falls), Elder Albert Dumont will be teaching about his people and the territory.

Stop 4

At Confederation Park, Jane Hubbard will speak on behalf of the Legacy of Hope Foundation — a national, Indigenous-led, charitable organization that has been working to promote healing and reconciliation in Canada for more than 19 years.

Stop 5

At the University of Ottawa, Lisa Howell and Sylvia Smith will be talking about Project of Heart and the work they are doing.

Alongside the tour, virtual content can be found on the Project of Heart website. The website includes a virtual map and video content allowing anyone interested to participate in a COVID-safe way. 

Participants will also be encouraged to engage in a social justice action for each site, including spreading the word through selfies, social media posts and more.

The following day, July 2, Reimagine Canada Day will be brought to a close with a ceremony conducted by Elder Albert Dumont. The hearts at the 50 Sussex Heart Garden will be taken down and transferred in ceremony to the Children of Shingwauk Survivors Society to be curated at their new centre at Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.


Are you passionate about Canadian geography?

You can support Canadian Geographic in 3 ways:

Related Content

People & Culture

Setting the story straight

Indigenous journalists are creating spaces to investigate the crimes committed at Indian residential schools, grappling with unresolved histories and a reckoning that still has a long way to go

  • 2547 words
  • 11 minutes
Irene Barbeau speaks to a group of students

People & Culture

RCGS, Orange Shirt Society launch Paths to Reconciliation

New project to educate Canadian students on the impact and legacy of the residential school system announced on Orange Shirt Day

  • 737 words
  • 3 minutes
truth and reconciliation commission bentwood box

People & Culture

Truth and reconciliation and a sacred bentwood box

During Truth and Reconciliation Commission events, personal items were placed in a carved bentwood box to symbolize the journey toward reconciliation. How far have we come?

  • 2099 words
  • 9 minutes

People & Culture

Survivor: The story of Phyllis Webstad and Orange Shirt Day

Phyllis Webstad turns her residential school experience into a powerful tool for reconciliation through Orange Shirt Day

  • 1904 words
  • 8 minutes