Giving voice to the tales of devastating loss, tragedy, hopes and aspirations, COVID in the House of Old (CIHO), curated by York University professor and historian Megan Davies, will exhibit at four Greater Toronto Area (GTA) locations this fall, starting at York University’s Keele Campus on Thursday, Sept. 14, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., in the seventh-floor lounge of the Kaneff Tower.
Davies, of York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, will introduce the exhibit, about the impacts of the pandemic on Canadian residential care homes, with a presentation called “Stories for a Revolution.”
Davies created CIHO with the help of families, staff and residents, and their stories are represented through the wooden storytelling chairs that sit at the heart of the exhibit. The chairs feature powerful audio stories of frustration, outrage, care, love and grief that trace the fault lines that COVID-19 revealed in Canada’s eldercare system.
As one of the first public commemorations of the pandemic, CIHO brings stories from a national humanitarian crisis to Canadians and asks them to take action. CIHO remembers the thousands of Canadian care home residents and workers who died of COVID-19 or suffered extended periods of stress and isolation. Some 7,609 seniors in Canadian care homes died of COVID-19 in the first seven months of the pandemic. The chairs in this exhibit represent some of the stories told by their daughters, sons, grandchildren and more. “Kayley’s Chair,” for example, tells the story of a young woman who lived in two Saskatchewan care homes as a teenager and young adult before moving to her own house in 2019; the “Rainbow Chair,” created with the help of the Senior Pride Network, highlights the stories of queer elders in long-term care during the pandemic.
Visitors can share their own stories about COVID-19 in residential facilities and their thoughts about the future of eldercare at the exhibit’s Story Space. Story contributions will be uploaded to the project website and preserved in Montreal’s Archives Passe-Mémoire, creating a permanent national collection of these thoughts, feelings and memories. York University graduate and undergraduate students have been integral to creating and sustaining the exhibit and Story Space.
Additional GTA exhibit dates for COVID in the House of Old:
- Thursday, Sept. 28 to Saturday, Sept. 30: Buddies in Bad Times Cabaret, 12 Alexander St., Toronto. Exhibit hours: Sept. 28, 2 to 8:30 p.m.; Sept. 29 to 30, 2 to 7 p.m.
- Tuesday, Oct. 3 to Tuesday, Oct. 10: Christie Gardens Apartments & Care, 600 Melita Cres., Toronto. Exhibit hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Story Space hours: Oct. 3 to 9, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Wednesday, Oct. 12 to Wednesday, Oct. 18: Active Adult Centre, 377 Burnhamthorpe Rd. E., Suite 116, Mississauga, Ont.
- Friday, Oct. 27 to Monday, Oct. 30: Castleview Wychwood Towers, 351 Christie St., Toronto.
For more information about the exhibit and the additional stops on its national tour, visit COVID in the House of Old.
Originally published in YFile.