By AMARACHI AMADIKE, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
It’s been a collectively rough few years as Torontonians continue to deal with hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, and many residents have explored various methods of healing.
Since January, The Burn art installation has been making its way through Toronto, stopping at various locations to provide another way in which residents can do so.
The interactive installation, which goes until March 11, provides a place for people to “cleanse through the restorative power of rising heat, ash, smoke and water” according to a City of Toronto press release.
A ritual that aims to encourage intention setting and letting go, The Burn’s travelling vessels attempts to set in motion a healing process for those who need it.
The installation is part of the Stronger TOgether program which launched last November with a commemorative illumination of Toronto City Hall.
“I’m so pleased that the City, in partnership with the Government of Canada, has created Stronger TOgether for residents to reflect on their individual and collective experiences in the pandemic,” said Mayor John Tory in the press release.
Stronger TOgether consists of free initiatives that acknowledge the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on residents and “honour the resiliency and perseverance of the community”, read the press release.
As an extension of Stronger TOgether, The Burn was created by award-winning artist Roger Mooking in collaboration with Javid JAH and Catherine Tammaro.
“As a commemoration to the lives lost and affected by the pandemic, The Burn is a collective healing moment fueled by the power of the people. Love only beyond this point,” said Mooking in the press release.
To participate, residents can visit any of the stops that the travelling vessel of The Burn will be making in the next few weeks to reflect on the pandemic and write their intentions on wooden cedar spheres. These spheres can then be placed within the vessel to be released through fire.
On the final day of the installation on March 11, the third anniversary of what is considered the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada, there will be a ceremony at Nathan Phillips Square in memory of everyone who did not survive these tumultuous times.
On March 11, the burning of the cedar spheres in the installation will begin and continue for 24 hours.
As part of the final ceremony, ashes from The Burn will be harvested, mixed into soil, then spread across City of Toronto gardens to honour the spirit of collective healing.
“The Burn will demonstrate the hope and resilience of our residents,” said Tory. “I invite Torontonians to reflect on their experiences and the experiences of their communities, and how far we’ve come.”
Earlier this week the installation was at the Scarborough Civic Centre for residents to share their intentions on the cedar spheres.
East Toronto residents can access The Burn vessel at Todmorden Mills (67 Pottery Rd.) from Feb. 23 to March 1.
Also, The Burn vessels will be at Gibson House Museum (5172 Yonge St. in North York); Driftwood Community Recreation Centre (4401 Jane St. in North York); and Etobicoke’s Assembly Hall (1 Colonel Samuel Smith Park Dr.) from Feb. 9 to Feb. 15.
After that, The Burn will be at Montgomery’s Inn (4709 Dundas St. W. in Etobicoke); the Clark Centre for the Arts in Guildwood (191 Guildwood Pkwy.): and the Ontario Science Centre (770 Don Mills Rd.) from Feb. 16 to Feb. 22.
Also, the vessels will be at and Stackt Market (28 Bathurst St.) from Feb. 23 to March 1.
The final locations for the vessels will be Mackenzie House (82 Bond St.); Elmbank Community Centre (10 Rampart Rd. in Etobicoke); and Toronto City Hall (100 Queen St. W.) from March 2 to March 11.
For more information about The Burn, visit https://www.toronto.ca/explore-enjoy/history-art-culture/museums/the-burn/
Amarachi Amadike is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Beach Metro Community News. His reporting is funded by the Government of Canada through its Local Journalism Initiative.
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