Defining Moments Canada

Neil Orford and Blake Heathcote recognized the gap between how Canada’s history has been taught and commemorated for generations, and what 21st-century digital tools and storytelling skills could make possible. They could imagine the thousands of stories across the country waiting to be rediscovered and shared. And they could see how Canadians could crowd-source this incredible heritage. Inspired by their shared vision, they founded Defining Moments Canada in 2017 to bridge that gap.

Our mission statement

Defining Moments Canada / Moments Déterminants Canada is a Canadian heritage organization dedicated to commemorating ‘definitional moments’ in our shared histories through the stories that have made them significant.

“Reflecting the Past – Facing the Present”

Our objectives

  • To tell stories largely untold, from voices too long unheard
  • To commemorate Canadian History on a ‘macro’ level by inspiring diverse ‘microhistorical’ projects in communities across Canada
  • To demonstrate healthy equitable and inclusive storytelling techniques promoting global competencies for the 21st century learner as defined by CMEC – The Council of Ministers of Education Canada
  • To model innovative commemorative digital methods to engage young Canadians with their history – shared, national, regional and local
  • To refract Canada’s defining moments through an ‘interdisciplinary lens’ that call Canadians to see our shared histories from multiple perspectives
  • To promote innovative commemorative digital methods in Inquiry Learning through digital research
  • To encourage broad-ranging ‘Experiential Learning’ opportunities with each ‘defining moment’ in our shared histories
  • To make all resources, assets, stories, learning tools and digital content free and openly accessible on the Defining Moments Canada / Moments Déterminants Canada website
  • To deliver all commemorations in broad-based collaboration with all of our partners – educational, heritage, institutional, public, private and corporate – to mark significant ‘moments’ of national import

Our Projects

Beginning in 2017, the Defining Moments Canada team designed a national digital commemoration for the centennial of the Spanish Flu Pandemic in Canada (1918-2018). In collaboration with the Ministry of Canadian Heritage and multiple public and private partners, this two-year project inspired hundreds of museums, schools and local heritage groups to research the stories of the Pandemic from diverse communities across Canada. Culminating with the ‘Recovering Canada’ Contest celebrations in May 2018 at Ingenium: Canada’s Museum of Science and Innovation, the top commemoration projects from across Canada were presented with awards sponsored by the Canadian Nurses Association.

Juno 75

In 2019, Defining Moments Canada partnered with the Ministry of Veterans Affairs Canada and the Juno Beach Centre Association to honour the 75th Anniversary of D-Day for Canadians.

Juno75: Above and Beyond commemorates the 75th anniversary of the Canadian landings at Juno Beach on June 6th, 1944. From that beachhead in Normandy, France, Canadians would go on to participate in many battles with the Allied forces to liberate Normandy, and eventually contribute to the defeat of Nazi occupation of Europe in May 1945.

The experiences of Canadian combatants, and those in support roles for D-Day and the ensuing battles across Europe, are shared in this Defining Moments Canada project through the stories of 21 remarkable Canadians who were eyewitnesses to this history. Drawn from the Testaments of Honour Archive, many of these are stories untold from Canadian voices as-yet unheard in the twenty-first century. Hear their voices, read their stories, learn from our digital tools and discover how D-Day and the Battle of Normandy changed Canadian history.

These stories from Juno tell of men and women who survived the Battle of Normandy and came home inspired to change Canada after 1945, and we want your help! Join us in finding more stories about those people who were shaped by these battles, and after the war served their communities as they had once served their country. Our great gift was inheriting this country and its heritage. Let’s honour that gift by sharing its stories.

VEDay75 & Insulin 2021

And in 2020, Defining Moments Canada is proud to partner with the Ministry of Canadian Heritage and Veterans Affairs Canada again for two national commemorations that you can participate in on this website over the next two years!

Stay tuned and watch the projects come alive.

Our partners

Defining Moments Canada is extremely proud of our partners!

Our network of partners keeps growing with each project we complete, and we are always eager to collaborate with new organizations.

See if your business, museum, institution or community group fits in with our existing partners, and reach-out to us to join us as leaders of ‘digital heritage commemoration in Canada!’

We wish to thank the Government of Canada for their generous and on-going support.

Government of Canada