- by Allison Billings

There is another opportunity for art lovers to collaborate and support a local artist illuminating a social issue, moving a piece of art from privately owned object to publicly supported activism.

This time it’s Elaine Doy’s “Observing Kanada Day 2021”.

We are trying to raise $900 to purchase the work from Elaine and either donate to the TOM if they are interested (and we are very respectful that the TOM makes its own curatorial decisions) or another local, public home where this work and the issues of contrast it encapsulates can be enjoyed and considered by as many as possible.

Observing Kanada Day by Elaine Doy (Alt Text)
Two figures representing Owen Sound Mayor Ian Boddy and Deputy Mayor Brian O’Leary embrace while holding sparklers and happily smile at the viewer. They wear suit and tie and pajama bottoms, referencing the City of Owen Sound’s Work from Home campaign that distributed 200 pairs of free pajamas. Behind them are the backs of an Indigenous parent and child wearing moccasins approaching an orange teepee and those of a gathered crowd viewing fireworks in a dark sky over a dark bay. At the Mayor and Deputy Mayor’s feet cower a scared dog and rabbit, running through small orange flags, like those being used to mark newly found graves at residential schools.

Artist's Statement:

This is how I viewed the July 1st holiday this year. I felt dismay over the sometimes ridiculous notions of our local leaders. I felt frustration at the lack of understanding of the fear, annoyance and pollution caused by fireworks. Most of all, I felt sadness at the seeming indifference toward the grieving of Indigenous friends over the discovery of mass graves at Residential School sites.


In June of 2021, 215 unmarked graves were discovered at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, located in the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc community in the southern interior of British Columbia.

Undocumented by settler insititutions but known to Indigenous communities, the graves triggered a period of public reckoning with Canada’s history of genocide. The disparity between Canada’s true history and the one settler’s have been comfortable with became marked, highlighted by ethical questions surrounding the rapidly approaching annual Canada Day celebrations.

Out of respect for the grief of Indigenous communities, many institutions, organizations, towns and cities decided that “celebrating” Canada Day was inappropriate.

The City of Owen Sound did not. The City announced that it would be pursuing its full slate of Canada Day celebrations, including fireworks, despite instant feedback from the community urging council to reconsider.

Inexplicably, Deputy Mayor Brian O’ Leary’s next recommendation was to institute a minute of emergency vehicle sirens going off during the festivities, a cacophony completely at odds with the gravity of reconciliation and dismissive of the trauma response that sirens and emergency responders can induce in peoples made vulnerable by strategic oppression.

On June 29, Mayor Ian Boddy communicated that the sirens were cancelled and a five minute period of silence would be instituted. “I call on all of our citizens and those who choose to participate in the fireworks at 10 p.m. to use those five minutes as we intended — pause and reflect on where we have been as a country and how we can all work together to make it better.”

At 4:00 pm on July 1, over a thousand people gathered in safe, silent respect for the Walk for the Children around Owen Sound harbour.
The five minute period of reflection was followed by fireworks at 10 pm.


In July, Councilor Carol Merton gave notice that she would be bringing forward a motion that identified areas to strengthen Council’s commitment to reconciliation. Namely, THAT City Council:

1. Directs staff to include in the Procedural By-law review report scheduled to come to Council at the August 30, 2021 meeting:
    1. An expansion of the current land acknowledgement practice by beginning each Council meeting, including Committee and Public meetings, with an appropriate land acknowledgement; and
    2. That the full text of the land acknowledgement be incorporated in the minutes of each meeting;

2. Directs staff to include a land acknowledgement on the City website; and

3. Directs staff to include actions that will support the work of reconciliation through the Strategic Plan Re-fresh, Safe City, Key Result No. 4 being the creation of a comprehensive corporate equity, diversity and inclusion strategy by December 2022.

"This action on our part is our opportunity to continue to step forward as we continue to work toward reconciliation and right relationship with the Indigenous Peoples of Canada.

The motion was defeated in a 4 to 3 recorded vote.

1397 ~ The number of graves unearthed at residential schools in Canada during the summer of 2021.
3213 ~ The number of previously documented graves noted in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Report.

About Elaine Doy

Elaine Doy is a local artist living and painting in Owen Sound, Ontario. Her paintings are a reflection of her appreciation of the beauty of
nature; the innocence of animals; and the stories a face can tell. She is also inspired to create pieces that speak to social justice issues.
Elaine's work is found in collections in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. She is represented by Jest Arts Gallery in Durham, Ontario and
participates in local, regional and national juried shows.