Hello, Bonjour, Aaniin, Canoo members!

My name is Amy Leis, and I’ll be writing to you every month in this newsletter. Although I was born in Canada, my biological family travelled here from Germany. My ancestors were Old Order Mennonites who escaped Germany in search of religious freedom, first in Pennsylvania in the United States, and eventually in Ontario, settling in the Sault Ste Marie area. I now live with my adoptive family in a small town called Haliburton, in central Ontario (near Algonquin Provincial Park). Arts and culture have been defining parts of my life for as long as I can remember. I hope that the experiences that I share with you in this newsletter each month inspire you to also learn about and support these arts and culture spaces. As our team’s resident proud rural Canadian, I am also very excited to point you towards all the incredible National and Provincial Parks Canada has to offer! There’s nothing quite like Canada’s natural beauty.

In Canada, the month of February is celebrated each year as Black History Month. It is a time to honour the richness and diversity of Black Canadians’ achievements and contributions, through exhibits, festivities, and events across Canada. We also reflect on the issues that were faced and continue to be faced by the Black community. In 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement brought to the forefront issues of systemic racism and discrimination that Black Canadians continue to face. It’s important to continue working towards an inclusive Canada; this work starts with our individual efforts to learn. 

In this newsletter, we have put together a list of some of our favourite Canoo venues across the country that feature exhibits and events which provide educational resources about the history of Black Canadians on this land, but also exhibits that celebrate Black creativity, talent, and art.

Because many indoor venues are closed right now, we’ve also put together some suggestions of exciting winter events and activities at Parks Canada locations throughout Canada. You’re sure to find something that suits you and your family. Remember to bundle up! It is chilly out there.

Please continue to wear your masks, remain socially distanced, and check your region’s guidelines and regulations. In regions of the country where it is still safe to visit venues, please follow all health guidelines that the venue has in place. Although we are updating the Canoo app, please always check the website of the venue or call ahead to find out about safety protocols and/or temporary closures in advance of visiting.

I hope that you have a wonderful February and are able to enjoy all the beauty that winter in Canada has to offer.

As Canoo continues to grow, we’re always looking to you, our members, to hear what you think. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to reach out to us!

Thank you, merci and chi miigwetch! 


Canoo Team Member

“Cultural places bring people together. They are a means for people with common interests to meet and share or explore new interests.”

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, enjoy a Canoo love story! Meet Canoo Member Lorena Galvez Bello. Arriving from Cuba, Lorena was originally attracted to Canada’s diverse culture, its breathtaking natural landscapes and the opportunities it presented to study and work hard for a prosperous future. After becoming a Canadian citizen, Lorena and her partner planned a week-long trip through La Gaspesie, Québec using Canoo, and made some very special memories. Read Lorena’s full story here and learn more about her new favourite spot at Forillon National Park! Thanks to Canadian Western Bank for sponsoring the Canoo Spotlight as our Canoo Nation Building Partner!

Encounter the Caribbean and its diaspora at the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto, Ontario)

Vist the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), one of the largest art museums in North America. The AGO hosts a collection of close to 95,000 diverse works. While there, explore special exhibit Fragments of Epic Memory. Fragments of Epic Memory will invite visitors to experience the multiple ways of encountering the Caribbean and its diaspora, from the period following emancipation through today. The first exhibition organized by the AGO’s new Department of Arts of Global Africa and the Diaspora, it will blend historical and contemporary narratives, presenting more than 200 photographs from the AGO’s Montgomery Collection of Caribbean Photographs alongside paintings, sculpture, and video works by modern and contemporary Caribbean artists that show how the region’s histories are constantly revisited and reimagined through artistic production over time. 

Inspire the young activists in your life with a trip to the Vancouver Art Gallery (Vancouver, British Columbia)

Founded in 1931, the Vancouver Art Gallery is recognized as one of North America’s most respected and innovative visual arts institutions. The Gallery’s innovative ground-breaking exhibitions, extensive public programs, and emphasis on advancing scholarship all focus on the historical and contemporary art of British Columbia and international centres, with special attention to the accomplishments of First Nations artists and the art of the Asia Pacific region­. A trip to the Young Activist Reading Room is a must while exploring the Gallery. The  Reading Room is an interactive installation designed to connect children, families, and students of all ages with stories of small moments that lead to big change. 

Here, you will find literary selections that reflect on themes of global and local peace activism, environmental stewardship, family, and relationships, with ourselves, each other, and the elements of nature. These titles are inspired by real people, events, and experiences.

After the Reading Room, be sure to make a stop at the Soul Power exhibit. For over thirty years, Jan Wade has been creating mixed-media paintings, textiles, and sculptural objects, drawing upon her lived experience as an African Canadian person and her mixed cultural heritage. Jan Wade: Soul Power brings together the artist’s diverse body of work alongside new pieces made specifically for the exhibition. 

Discover contrasting family stories from African Nova Scotian communities and Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia is the largest art museum in Atlantic Canada and has been a gateway for the visual arts in Atlantic Canada since 1908. Come and check out the Gallery’s remarkable 18,000+ works. If you stop by before February 21st, you can catch Family Patterns by Darcie Bernhardt and Letitia Fraser. Designed as a conversation between artists — their cultural rituals, family, and memory — Family Patterns understands motifs of home as ancestral and contemporary memory-keeping. Layering cultural and domestic references specific to both artists’ lives, Bernhardt and Fraser draw upon rhythms and patterns within speech, textiles, and their own community histories to express their identities and experiences through painting. From the Northern Inuvialuit hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk and the local African Nova Scotian communities of North Preston and Beechville, Bernhardt and Fraser explore storytelling and language as an act of decolonial memory preservation, ensuring their own histories are recorded, remembered, represented, and honoured. Learn more here. 

Explore the Museum for Human Rights from the comfort of home (Winnipeg, Manitoba)

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the world’s first museum centered around human rights, with a focus on Canadian identity and heritage. Although the Museum has been closed to the public throughout January due to COVID-19 numbers, they have lots of virtual exhibits, tours, and programming that you can watch from anywhere in Canada! In addition, they hope to reopen in early February, so watch their website for updates.

Learn more about the historical contributions of Black Canadians through the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada

The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada is the body within Parks Canada responsible for commemorations and designations of people, places, and events of national historic significance. New designations are made each year, and include such individuals as heavyweight boxer Larry Gains and George Dixon.

To search for designations related to various topics, themes, or categories, try the Directory of Federal Heritage Designations. The directory offers a complete list of federal designations stemming from various programs. It includes information on districts, buildings, events, railway stations, lighthouses and people who are of historic value or interest. The Directory lists over 3,600 designations. 

You can also learn more about Black History Month through the Government of Canada’s website, where you can find educational resources and information about historical Black Canadian communities and figures.

Although many indoor activities are closed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the great outdoors is always open. Getting moving outside is a great way to take care of both your mental and physical health, especially in such a stressful time, and Parks Canada has you covered! Experience the magic of winter in Canada as you try out these winter activities. Bundle up, strap on your snowshoes, or tie up your skates, it’s time to make the most of this snow-filled season!

Check out the Parks Canada Winter Activity Hub here to find ideas for trips to national parks all over the country. We’ve pulled some of our favourites for you below as examples, but rest assured, there is something for everyone, in every area of Canada.


Hit the trails for cross country skiing and snowshoeing at Prince Albert National Park

Prince Albert National Park is open year-round, and winter is an excellent time to explore the park without the crowds. Explore a million acres of snow-covered wilderness. Cruise down a cross-country ski trail, float across the snow on a pair of snowshoes, relax by the campfire with friends and family, or listen to the call of the wolves in the distance. The winter park awaits and warmly welcomes you!

Enjoy winter camping at Fundy National Park

Fundy National Park facilities and trails are offering a wide array of winter activities! These include cross-country skiing, birding, snowshoeing, tobogganing and more. Winter camping is available at the Headquarters campground in one of our five yurts, ten oTENTik accommodations or with your own tent! Three rustic cabins are also accessible: one on the Maple Grove trail, one on Hastings Road, and the other on McKinley trail.

Try out ice fishing at Terra Nova National Park

Escape. Explore. Experience… The wonder and drama of Canada’s most Easterly National Park, Terra Nova. It’s a magical place where the land and sea compete for your attention, where the island boreal forest reveals its natural and cultural secrets as you hike a trail and where you can experience an evening of theatre under the stars. Try your hand at ice fishing for trout or explore the park by snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. This place is ready for your next adventure-make it your own!

We want you to volunteer to sing at an ICC Enhanced Citizenship Ceremony!

We are looking for talented Canoo members and alumni to perform the bilingual Canadian national anthem at a virtual ICC Enhanced Citizenship Ceremony.

Over the next few months, we will be hosting multiple virtual citizenship ceremonies in collaboration with Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada offices in different cities and provinces across Canada. We would be honored to have a Canoo member or alumni lead the new citizens in the singing of the bilingual National Anthem at these ceremonies. This is one of the most special parts of the ceremony as this is the first time the new Canadians would be singing the Canadian National Anthem as their National Anthem.  

This would be an hour commitment and all ceremonies will be hosted on Zoom. Depending on the needs of the new Canadians, ceremonies can be presented in either primarily French, primarily English, or fully bilingually. Although anthem singers do not need to be fluent in both official languages to perform, they will be asked to sing the anthem bilingually (we provide the lyrics for you). An honorarium will be provided for your time and participation. 

If you are interested in performing at citizenship ceremonies in the future, please reach out to us by filling out this form and attaching a short audition video. You can find the bilingual lyrics to O Canada here. We will be reviewing submissions on an ongoing basis. We can’t wait to hear you sing! 

Celebrate the newest members of the Canadian family at a livestreamed ICC Enhanced Citizenship Ceremony

In honour of Black History Month, the Institute for Canadian Citizenship will be hosting an Enhanced Citizenship Ceremony with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. The Ceremony will be streamed live on YouTube, starting at 11 AM PST/12 PM MST/1 PM CST/2 PM EST/3 PM AST/3:30 PM NST on February 3rd. The ceremony will include several special guests, including Elder Gilbert Whiteduck, Halifax Multicultural Drummers and The Melisizwe Brothers. Bestselling Canadian novelist and two-time Giller Prize winner Esi Edugyan will be the keynote speaker. The ceremony will be presided over by Judge Rochelle Ivri, and The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, will lead the candidates in the Oath. Watch this very special ceremony and cheer on the newest members of the Canadian family here.

Give a newcomer a winter to remember

Canada is a breathtakingly beautiful place to explore and discover in the winter.

But your first winter here can be hard.

So why not give the gift of Canada to every new arrival, by donating $50 to Canoo.

That way we can make Canoo available to every new Canadian, from the day they arrive, allowing more people than ever to explore the museums, science centres, art galleries, majestic parks, and historic sites.

Your donation will help thousands of newcomers have a first Canadian winter to remember.

Please give what you can today. Thank you!