The Burn interactive exhibit for collective healing arrives at Toronto City Hall

Mar 9, 2023 | Arts, Culture

The Burn, an interactive installation, comes to a end this weekend at Toronto City Hall.

The 24-hour Burn commemorative ceremony will take place March 11 and March 12, which marks the third anniversary of the official start of the pandemic. The ashes from the installation will be mixed with soil to be used in gardens across the city to commemorate collective healing.

The arts and cultural installation has been making its way through the city since Jan. 19.

The exhibit, a collective effort by artists Roger Mooking, Javid JAH and Catherine Tammaro, travelled to Todmorden Mills, Stackt Market, Mackenzie House, Elmbank Community Centre and will end at city hall.

Mooking is an award-winning chef, author, TV host, and recording artist. JAH is an artist and designer who uses sacred geometry as an inspiration for his art. Tammaro is a multi-disciplinary artist who is also an Elder, mentor, advisor and teacher, and a member of the Wyandot Spotted Turtle Clan.

JAH said the installation took inspiration from Mooking’s personal experiences.

“The inspiration came from Roger,” he said. “He was inspired by the idea that fire is transformative.

“And so, it was really a response to a low point in his life and how he saw the potential of fire to be something that could help heal the city after the pandemic.”

JAH said they wanted the installation to be something people experienced and not just witnessed.

“That was my job, how do you curate the experience so that people can feel like they can take a moment to make a prayer without it being a religious environment, to do something sacred without it being a secular space at the same time,” he said.

Samantha Gilhooly, founder, life coach and counsellor at Safe Haven Sanctuary, who helps survivors of trauma to heal through meditation and counselling, said The Burn is a powerful interaction that can offer healing through fire.

“When you put an intention into something and you make a commitment that you’re going to release it, it’s like a form of rebirth,” she said. “Everything is energy.”

Gilhooly said The Burn uses earth elements such as fire and soil, and being a collective experience is powerful healing as it lets everyone unite and feel peace together.

“It brings in a lot of earth elements, that’s a huge key to healing,” she said. “So, the fire, the soil connects them more to their spirituality, this is such a beautiful ritual for people to connect to themselves and to even connect to others, it brings people together.”

JAH said it is important to celebrate the diversity that is open to all communities while giving importance to the traditions of Indigenous communities that were here before us.

“It’s important that we recognize the traditions of people who did it before we arrived here,” he said. “We have a lot to learn from the Indigenous communities, let’s make sure we’re diverse in a way that is open to all communities. Finding the middle ground and to be spearheaded from an Indigenous perspective.”