Covid in the House of Old

Canadians have failed our vulnerable elders. COVID-19 deaths in the first wave of the pandemic were staggering, a pattern that persisted. We allowed residents to be locked away from the world. And we still are not adequately supporting workers who deliver crucial daily care.

This is a major issue of our time. Our parents, our children, and our future selves will judge us on the quality of our response.

COVID in the House of Old honours and informs. Seven storytelling chairs present powerful narratives of grief, frustration, care and love. We take a deep dive into the topic with our podcast series and extend the project’s reach with educational materials. Our traveling exhibit is available for public shows.

Elegy for Long Term Care Homes 2020 – 2021
by Hiroki Tanaka

This is an audio-visual representation of lives lost to COVID-19 in BC and Ontario long-term care homes, March 2020-October 2021. Each dot and accompanying musical note mark a resident death – green for BC and orange for Ontario.

Elegy provides an opportunity to experience, reflect and mourn. 


This project was made possible by a generous Jack and Doris Shadbolt Fellowship in the Humanities from Simon Fraser University and a Connection Grant provided by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.

York University has also provided invaluable support. The Faculty of Liberal Arts and Social Science funded a social media creator, helped me put in a competitive SSHRC grant application, and underwrote the costs of creating one chair to represent the Wikwemikong Nursing Home and another to represent Rainbow Seniors. The Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies has provided essential administrative services and the best advice.