Canada Day

Find information on what Waterloo is doing for Canada Day, learn about the 2021 art installations around Waterloo, and view the art installation map.

On this page

  1. About Canada Day
  2. Open Call Information
  3. Art Installations
  4. Art Installation Map

About Canada Day

Canada is often rated one of the most loved countries in the world, for a variety of reasons that remain important and should be recognized.

We should also all commit to learning about the past, and what’s needed for reconciliation and healing.

This Canada Day we need to set aside some time and learn about truth and reconciliation. We can also think about what we can do to truly reconcile the actions we have taken in the past and identify and take meaningful actions that bring about true reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. 

We should also reflect on recent events in which the remains of Indigenous children and adults are being discovered at the site of former residential schools. This is truly heartbreaking and the pain and sorrow Indigenous peoples experience every time another site is located is unimaginable.

It’s a pain all Canadians should feel, as the loss of one life is too many and the death of thousands of Indigenous people is a senseless tragedy. Sadly, we know many more remains will be found. We must all reconcile this shameful legacy. We owe this to the Indigenous community and it’s a must so that we can move forward together. We should also all commit to learning about the past, and what’s needed for reconciliation and healing.

In recognition of COVID related restrictions, there will be no large community event organized by the city.   Instead, the City of Waterloo will be presenting a series of seven temporary public art installations in parks throughout the city.

Open Call

An open call was released asking artists to respond to the following themes:

  • Stories and histories of the various peoples/communities/nations who have called and continue to call this area home
  • Our responsibility to each other and/or to the land
  • What it means to celebrate or not celebrate the past, present, and future of Canada
  • Waterloo as a community full of diverse identities, traditions, and celebrations

The artworks will be installed by June 30 and will be on display until July 30, 2021.

 2021 Art Installations

Growing Locally by Colin Boyd Shafer

Artist Statement: 

The pandemic, and associated food shortages, have made many of us think more about where our food comes from and the importance of buying and growing locally. Many people are trying to be more self-sufficient, and part of this is growing your own food.
Colin Boyd Shafer's series "Growing Locally" (2021) features portraits of three gardeners using one of Sunnydale Community Garden's 23 plots. Each portrait is paired with a description of who the gardener is, an answer to the simple question: "why do you garden?", and details of their favourite crop.
Boyd Shafer hopes that this exhibition can celebrate the gardeners in our community and challenge any stigma people may have about who belongs in the garden. Boyd Shafer also wants viewers to reflect on the land that sustains us all and for this series to inspire others to engage in local gardening practices.

Install Location: Albert McCormick Community Centre (500 Parkside Drive, Waterloo), on basketball court 

Artist Bio:

Colin Boyd Shafer (b. 1983) is a documentary photographer and educator born in Kitchener, Ontario. Shafer holds an MSc in Political Economy of Violence Conflict and Development from SOAS, University of London.

In 2016, Shafer was chosen by the Governor General of Canada to photograph inspiring Order of Canada recipients. These portraits are featured in They Desire A Better Country (2017), a book that commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Order of Canada.

Shafer's recent photography projects include INTERLOVE (2015) which tells 50 interfaith love stories in Ontario, and Cosmopolis Toronto (2014), a project that features someone from every country of the world who now calls Toronto home. 

Shafer's work has been featured widely in the media, including National Geographic, The Wall Street Journal, The Globe and Mail as well as BBCCTV, CBC and Global National News channels. Shafer has also presented at TEDxToronto, the United Nations Alliance of Civilization's Global Forum, and his work was the focus of a film by the National Film Board.

In 2022, Shafer's hardcover book Finding American: Stories of Immigration from the 50 States will be released by Figure 1 Publishing Inc. 

Social Media: @colinboydshafer


Watch a brief interview with the artist.

Intersection of Identities by Medea Rasheed

Artist Statement: 

This art installation brings attention to the new bill that was approved and recognized on February 21, 2021 as International Mother Language Day in Canada. The goal of the bill is to raise awareness and educate Canadians on the importance of languages and celebrate inclusion.

Medea is interested in the relationship that occurs when Arabic letters intersect and merge. She works with the calligraphic compositions representing and symbolizing the concept of inclusion in a visual form. Within the tradition of Arabic calligraphy, Arabic letters are believed to have a magical and mystical dimension as an expression of a higher order. She focuses on incorporating one specific letter from the Arabic alphabet; “waw”, that is seen as a mark for the voice in the Arabic language, “the letter of connection between man and the higher power”. She focuses on its attribute of it being a connector between identities. As shown in the rendering, 6 waw letters have been compiled with their orientation rearranged in a fashion to bring forth the idea of how inclusion would look like to her as an artist in celebration of International Mother Language Day. She invites participants to connect with her piece with the intent to serve as the voice for the many here in Ontario. 

Install Location: Waterloo Public Library - John M. Harper Branch (500 Fischer-Hallman Rd N, Waterloo), in front of building.

Artist Bio: 

Medea Rasheed, is a Kurdish designer and emerging artist, based in Waterloo, Ontario. While completing her bachelor's degree from the School of Planning at the University of Waterloo, she gravitated towards the fine arts, inspiring her to complete minors in fine arts studio and entrepreneurship. This shaped her next steps in dedicating more time to her art practice. She was a former member of ArtsPay Art Incubator and currently a member with KW Artists Co-op working on new bodies of work. She recently graduated from the Artepeneur Visual Arts incubator program hosted by the York Region Arts Council; funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation. The program was designed to foster collaboration between other practicing artists and sharing of ideas and best practices to help artists build a sustainable art practice. As she intends to gain formal training in traditional calligraphy, she recently became the student of the renowned Master of Arabic calligraphy Haji Noor Deen; an expert who brings in immense learning in traditional thought to a modern audience. She will continue her academic career, by starting her master’s degree at Carleton University with the department of Industrial Design, where she will explore more in depth the field of interactive public art and installations that engage both people and in places. She’s interested in research that helps answer how public art can influence physical well-being of people especially as a medium for healing. 

Her work is an extension of her deep connection to the spiritual dimension of life. Upon discovering the rich tradition of Arabic calligraphy, she resonated with this art form due its deep mystical dimension. Over the years of building her work, painting Arabic calligraphy became a metaphor of the beauty in this world that our five senses can’t see or feel, but rather what the spiritual heart can connect with. She attempts to achieve this through the lines and curves of the Arabic alphabet, emphasizing on the colours and curves used in her pieces to give the language life and spirit it once had.  

On The Land by Shawn Johnston 

Artist Statement:

In this time of mourning, it is necessary that folks learn about the true history of "Canada" and the Indigenous Peoples on who's land they occupy. Now is not the time to celebrate colonialism and genocide but to educate one another and to demand change. In this series of photos, we listen to words from five different people that answer the question "What does it mean to live on this Indigenous territory?"

Install Location: Geo Time Trail (594 Sundew Dr, Waterloo) throughout the trail

Artist Bio:

Shawn Johnston (they/them) is an IndigiQueer Anishinaabe originally from Couchiching First Nation. They are an award-winning photographer with their work on display throughout Kitchener-Waterloo. Shawn is also a co-founder/co-organizer of O:se Kenhionhata:tie Land Back Camp, a space for Indigenous queer youth, which is currently reclaiming land in Laurel Creek Conservation Area. 


*Shawn Johnston, local Indigenous photographer, decided to not display these pieces during the month of July as their community grieves. The installation is now viewable from August 4 to September 3.

Patched by Jackie Partridge

Artist Statement: 

Patched is an ongoing photography series where I make interventions with nature using handmade paper. I make paper from old maps of places I have been and insert the pulp into the missing areas of bark on trees and logs commenting on how change impacts the environment.

The paper itself is an offering back to the tree. The act of adding pulp to the bark presents an idea of healing and mending the natural environment in a way that a bandage might heal or protect a wound.

In 2018, I received a grant from the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund to complete a publication of photographs and poems for my series Patched. Patched has also been featured in publications such as Fiber Art Now, Tiny Spoon, Remington Review, Sandpiper Journal, Printmaking Today, Understorey Magazine and Thimble Lit Mag. I have completed the Patched installation in various places I have lived since 2017 including Wellesley, Montreal, Vermont, New York, Waterloo, Huntsville and many places in between.

Install Location: Regency Park (165 Fischer-Hallman Rd N, Waterloo), on various trees on trail

Artist Bio:

Jackie Partridge graduated in 2018 with her Master of Fine Arts in the Fibres and Material Practices Program at Concordia University in Montreal, QC. She has exhibited her work across Canada in solo and group exhibitions. In 2017-2018 she attended two artist residencies at the Vermont Studio Center and the Women’s Studio Workshop. She is a mixed media installation-based artist who specializes in paper making. Her artwork deals with her relationship to the natural environment and its constant transformation. Jackie is currently living and working in Wellesley. 


Watch a brief interview with the artist.

Riding The Waves by Eekta Trienekens

Artist Statement: 

Struggling in the pandemic feels like being a fish out of the water. But, we are a strong and diverse school of fish, and if we stick together, we will find a way to swim together again soon. These guys are here to give us hope.

Install Location: City Hall (100 Regina St S, Waterloo) in the natural amphitheatre on Laurel Trail

Artist Bio: 

Eekta Trienekens grew up in the Netherlands and lived in the medieval cities of Amersfoort and Leiden before moving to Canada a little over a decade ago. Her mother is from Punjab, India, and Eekta spent many seasons there for extended visits with her grandparents. The extreme contrast between these two worlds is a strong influence in her work, oscillating between a sense of belonging and otherness. She has degrees in Arts Education (Utrecht) and South Asian Studies (Leiden). Though Eekta works in a variety of materials, ceramics has been her main artistic practice since 2015.

We Recycle by Amy Esplen

Artist Statement:

Canada day/month I believe is a great time to highlight how recycling can improve the life of the land we live off of. Visit RIM Park to see a 4 x 8 Foot recycling bin. Bring your phone along to see the bin comes to life through augmented reality, and learn how you can do to improve the recycling system. 

Install Location: RIM Park (2001 University Ave E, Waterloo) in front of Field 2 off of Millennium Drive

Artist Bio:
A graphic designer living in Kitchener, ON with big dreams and a handy gentleman friend. I am inspired by obscurity and using what I have on hand to create and explore new perspectives. 


Watch a brief interview with the artist.

What Does It Mean To Be Here by Lucy Bilson

Artist Statement:

What does it mean to be in Canada, in this place, on this land? This installation explores the multiplicity of experiences and perspectives which speak to what it means to be here, as the nation reflects on the complex issue of its collective identity. How are our views of this place shaped by our journeys through this place? What ideas and hopes do we have for our community and identity as we look to the future? Responses were collected from the community about what it means to be here — some celebratory, some critical, some reflective. Each poster represents a single thought from one of the community responses. Together, they form a visual collage which reflects the diversity of views our community holds. There are moments of stark contrast as well as emergent themes, all reflecting the complex and ever-changing nature of what this place means to the people who inhabit it. Throughout the month of July, the installation will change as more thoughts are added to the conversation.

Install Location: Laurel Trail at Moses Springer Community Centre (150 Lincoln Rd, Waterloo), trail entrance closer to Albert Street

Artist Bio:

Lucy Bilson is a designer, researcher, and educator working at the periphery of contemporary graphic design practice. In addition to operating Lucy Bilson Design, Lucy’s creative practice explores the interdisciplinary space between design and art, often using her work to contest the boundaries of contemporary practice. 

Art Installation Map