If you could write a letter to Lake Ontario, what would you say?
Maybe you’d say thank you for being your source of clean drinking and bathing water. Or maybe you’d reminisce about that time you and your best friend spent the afternoon sitting lazily on the rocks fishing, gazing at the horizon. Maybe your letter would be an apology expressing remorse for your neglect and mistreatment. Maybe you would scorn its dangerous waters. Or perhaps you’d praise its unending beauty.
Next week, from June 20 – 25th, Toronto’s newest arts festival ‘A Love Letter to the Great Lakes’ invites you to write this letter.
The Love Letter project will bring the festival’s “ARTivism” (art and activism) in-land, focusing on our freshwater Great Lakes. The grassroots, artist-led, Toronto mural project will create permanent murals of appreciation and awareness to the threats currently facing the Great Lakes. It's an offshoot of PangeaSeed Foundation's Sea Walls: Murals for Oceans festival.
A team of international and local artists has been assembled. Krystyn Tully from Lake Ontario Waterkeeper will welcome them to our watershed on Sunday. Throughout the week, inspired by their own personal stories, the artists will paint murals across Toronto’s city core. These works of public art will beautify our neighbourhoods, galvanize communities, and stimulate a broader public awareness of critical environmental issues affecting the Great Lakes.
Current mural sites are staked on Queen Street at Ossington and Spadina, as well as the mouth of the Don River in the east end of the city.
The festival will host gallery exhibits, panel discussions, and community events at their festival HQ (Rally at 12 Ossington Avenue). Here, among other things, you will be invited to write your love letter to the lake. These “love letters” will become Watermarks and filed in our very own Watermark Project archive.
The murals from the project will live on as visual reminders of our love of, reliance on, and commitment to, the Great Lakes.
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper wants to make sure that the enthusiasm, knowledge, and curiosity sparked in each person throughout the week also has a place to develop and grow long-term.
From this festival, our hope is to develop a community of engaged Torontonians who understand the importance of a swimmable, drinkable, fishable Lake Ontario. Your love letter will be the catalyst – the first step - in growing this community.
That’s why Watermark Project has joined forces with ‘A Love Letter to the Great Lakes.’ We are committed to collecting the love letters submitted throughout the week to record in our online archive. By archiving each letter, we can capture each and every precious moment, story, and memory shared.
For those who don’t know, the Watermark Project is a community-led effort seeking to collect and archive stories about the ways in which Canadians interact with water. A Watermark is a story about you and a body of water, at a specific place, from a certain time.
Similar to ‘Love Letters to the Great Lakes,’ a Watermark asks us to look back to a moment in time when we connected with water. It can be an event or a feeling. It can be happy, scary, joyful, or heartbreaking. Just as each story forms the content of our letter to the lake, each and every story is also a Watermark.
When you submit your Watermark, you’re doing more than just telling a story.
- Registers a waterbody into a national database
- Documents the value of that body of water to your community
- Provides evidence that ensures environmental laws can be used to safeguard these waters.
Knowing your Watermark is the very first step towards understanding your connection to the water – your important role in protecting it.
‘A Love Letter to the Great Lakes’ runs from Monday, June 20 to Saturday, June 25. Make sure to check out everything this festival has to offer. And as you tour the mural sites, or stroll along the mouth of the Don River (or even if you don’t) – think about your connection to water.
If you could write a letter to the lake – if there was a story you could tell – what would you say? Share it with us at watermarkproject.ca/submit.