News Release
March 6, 2023

Today, the City of Toronto announced it will mark the third anniversary of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic with a commemorative gathering on Nathan Phillips Square, Saturday, March 11.

Starting at sunset, the commemorative gathering will include:

  • An Indigenous welcome, Ancestral Acknowledgement and formal remarks
  • A moment of silence to acknowledge friends and loved ones lost
  • A special appearance by Juno award-winning singer-songwriter Jully Black
  • A water-themed Integration Zone in the City Hall Rotunda featuring 24 hours of wellness programming, such as sound baths, meditation and movement.

The commemorative gathering is a culmination of The Burn Vessels Tour to provide communities across the city an opportunity to set intentions of love and healing. These intentions are marked on cedar spheres for burning. Cedar spheres will also be distributed during the Commemorative Gathering and participants will be invited to interact with three fire pits dedicated to letting go, transformation and new beginnings. This 24-hour interactive public art installation will feature scent, fire, water and immersive waves of sound.

Support will be available from accredited mental health and grief counselling professionals, and community specialists in the City Hall Rotunda during the event.

The Burn Vessels Tour continues until Saturday, March 11. Residents can set intentions on wooden cedar spheres for placement in vessels during final tour stops at Mackenzie House, Elmbank Community Centre and Toronto City Hall.

The Burn was created by multi-talented, award-winning artist Roger Mooking, in collaboration with artist and designer Javid JAH and multi-disciplinary artist and Wyandot Elder Catherine Tammaro.

More information about The Burn, including the commemorative gathering schedule and vessel locations throughout Toronto, is available on the City’s The Burn webpage.

High-resolution images are available on Flickr.

A promotional video for The Burn is available on the Toronto History Museums YouTube channel.

The Burn, The Burn Vessel Tour and the commemorative gathering are part of the City’s free and accessible Stronger Together program to provide people across the city opportunities to reflect on the COVID-19 pandemic, recognizing disproportionately affected communities and those who continue to live with the effects of the pandemic. Stronger TOgether is funded in part by the Government of Canada.

From Saturday, March11 until Friday, March 24, Transforming Grief: Loss and Togetherness in COVID-19, a temporary micro-exhibit will be on view at City Hall, Rotunda, 100 Queen St. W., another Stronger TOgether project. Transforming Grief brings together interviews, art and artifacts representing the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic.


“These past three years have been some of the most challenging in our city’s history. 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.”
– Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie (Scarborough-Rouge Park), Chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee

“Our culture unites us, entertains us, moves us and brings us together in good times and bad times. The Reopening Fund was created to honour the people and organizations that made a difference during the pandemic and to support the resurgence of our cultural sector. Our government is proud to support the City of Toronto’s The Burn, part of the Stronger TOgether program. I’m so happy to see our arts, culture and heritage events resuming in communities across the country. I’m sure there will be a great turnout!”
– The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage

“The Burn has already been a deeply impactful public art experience as it has travelled across the city. The Commemorative Gathering will be a wonderful culmination of this work, and I encourage residents to take part in this unique opportunity to collectively reflect and heal from the impacts of the pandemic.”
– Councillor Shelley Carroll (Don Valley North), Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee

“The Burn at Nathan Phillips Square is an opportunity for the people of this city to heal individually and collectively. 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.”
– Roger Mooking, Creator, Award-winning, Lead Artist

Toronto is home to more than three million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city Canada’s leading economic engine and one of the world’s most diverse and livable cities. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture and innovation, and consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses. For more information visit the City’s website or follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Media Relations