Recovering Canada

Defining Moments Canada is challenging all Canadians to research and create digital projects that tell stories of the Spanish Flu Pandemic in engaging and innovative ways. Recovering Canada is a contest to encourage people from across the country to share Pandemic experiences from communities nationwide: stories that may not have been heard before, and which need to be shared with Canadians.

Award Recipients

High School Group Recipient

Northview Heights Secondary School, Toronto, Ontario

The Grade 10 Canadian History students in Ms. Kathryn Whitfield’s class at Northview Heights Secondary School tell the stories of Torontonians of significance who responded to the Spanish Influenza Epidemic and whose actions contributed to a more liveable city in Toronto in the aftermath in their award-winning project called Coordination, Capacity-Building and Communication.

They invite you to explore their stories through photographs of their sketchnotes (that were created in 3D in their classroom), by reading their biopoems and by hearing them read the poems through audio recording on the website. 

Access their project here: 

Local Heritage Group Recipient

McMaster Youth and Children’s University, Dundas Central Public School & Dundas Museum and Archives, Hamilton, Ontario 

This project was conceived and formulated in equal partnership between a Dundas Central Public School class (Rob Bell; teacher), The McMaster Children and Youth University (MCYU) (Sandeep Raha; Director) and the Dundas Museum and Archives (Anna Patterson; Education, Events and Volunteer coordinator). Also included in this partnership is Mr. Stan Nowak, cofounder of the Dundas Valley Historical Society.

In their project, The 1918 Flu Pandemic: Changing the Future through History – The defining Moments, they tell the story of Hazen Isabel Layden, a young girl that attended Dundas Central Elementary school in 1918, the same school as the children in Rob Bell’s Grade 5/6 class. Hazel fell ill with the Spanish Flu and subsequently passed away.

The students in Rob Bell’s class were inspired to explore her story and, in collaboration with MCYU, discovered how the virus caused such widespread death so quickly. Both MCYU facilitators and Dundas Central students experienced how exploration of history can be applied to address the future risks of an influenza pandemic.

Equally important, the students from Dundas Central were able to teach the McMaster Facilitators about the history of the Dundas locale and living conditions that existed in 1918 – information the students learned about in collaboration with the Dundas Museum and Archives. This project is a genuine demonstration of how collaborative learning emerges from questioning, discovering and creating new knowledge and experiences for all learners (the credo of MCYU).

Access their project here:

Museum Recipient

Museum of Dufferin, Mulmur, Ontario

The Museum of Dufferin’s online exhibition, Sufferin’ in Dufferin: The Spanish Flu 1918-1919, was developed to acknowledge the impact and significance of the Spanish Flu on the citizens of Dufferin County, Ontario. In six months, the Spanish Influenza pandemic killed some 30 million people around the world and some 30-50,000 people across Canada. This nearly forgotten pandemic was among the worst in modern history in terms of rate of illness and death. The Spanish Flu epidemic made its way to Dufferin County by October of 1918, likely along common transportation routes, especially through railway hubs like Toronto. The epidemic peaked in November, lasting until February of 1919.

As a county consisting of rural municipalities and lower population density, Dufferin County was less affected that urban areas. Nonetheless, the Spanish Flu epidemic made its way to the region through common travel routes. Arriving, as well, was news of family and friends near and far whom were ill or had succumbed to the virus. Once the epidemic had passed, people were keen to move on with their lives and forget, but the “Spanish Lady” had left lasting emotional scars and important lessons. Most notably, in the aftermath, the municipal health boards and healthcare practitioners increased proactive planning and measures in the hopes of ensuring a timely and well- coordinated response in the event of another outbreak.

Access their project here:

Contest Description

Commemorative Project Focus Defining Moments Canada is a digital commemoration platform that promotes storytelling techniques, scholarly research, and digital imagery to enable Canadians to tell the richest ‘microhistories’ about the moments that have defined Canada. Our mission is to engage all Canadians in unique interdisciplinary research to communicate these stories using digital media, producing innovative projects on specific themes.

In 2018-2019, Defining Moments Canada’s project theme is the 100th Anniversary of the Spanish Flu Pandemic in Canada – a defining moment that struck Canada in three waves over 20 months, afflicting likely one-third of the population, and causing the deaths of more than 50,000 Canadians.

Critical Inquiry Question for Commemorative Projects As a defining moment in Canadian history, did the event of the Spanish Flu Pandemic contribute to creating a more liveable society for all people in Canada?

Critical Inquiry Task for Projects In a medium of your choosing, tell a compelling story for a specific audience (historical, geographic, mathematical, scientific, etc.) using evidence about the degree to which the event of the Spanish Flu Pandemic created a more liveable society for all people in Canada.

Eligibility and Rules & Regulations

Contest Rules & Regulations

The Recovering Canada Awards are presented by Defining Moments Canada and the Government of Canada. Sponsored gifts and up to $5,000 in prizes may be presented to exceptional digital commemorative projects completed by Canadians in four categories: High School, Museum, University and Local Heritage Group.

By submitting projects for consideration, universities, students, museum teams, and heritage groups agree to the rules and regulations as presented below. In all categories, each individual participant, or a member of each participating group, must register for the website if they have not already done so. Click Here to register.

High Schools/CEGEP

The Recovering Canada Awards – High School Category is open to all residents of Canada currently enrolled at a Canadian high school as full-time grade 10, 11, or 12 students (secondary 4/5 and CEGEP in Quebec). Each student, class, or school may submit one project for consideration. Additional submissions received will not be considered.

Museum Teams

The Recovering Canada Awards – Museum Teams Category is open to all publicly or privately funded museums in Canada. Each museum may submit one project for consideration. Additional submissions will not be considered.


The Recovering Canada Awards – University Category is open to all publicly or privately funded universities in Canada. Each university, department, or faculty collaboration may submit one project for consideration. Additional submissions will not be considered.

Heritage Groups

The Recovering Canada Awards – Local Heritage Group Category is open to all publicly or privately funded cultural heritage or community-based heritage groups in Canada. Each group may collaborate with other groups, municipalities, or communities to submit one project for consideration. Additional submissions will not be considered.

Registration and Project Submission

Recovering Canada contest participants (or at least one member of a collaboration) must be registered with the Defining Moments Canada website to gain access to premium materials, including early examples of projects and thorough inquiry-based learning materials provided by the Critical Thinking Consortium.

If you have not registered, Click Here to do so. Each submission must be original work and specific to this competition. Registrants may work individually or in collaborative teams to create their submission. (Prize money will be divided between partners for team submissions.) All submissions will be reviewed for plagiarism. Plagiarism of any sort will result in immediate disqualification.

The competition officially begins November 1st, 2018 at 12:00:01 am EST and will end April 11th, 2019 at 12:00:01 am EST. All submissions must be received by no later than April 10th, 2019. For further questions or comments regarding this contest please contact Tatiana Zamozdra or Neil Orford.

Project Guidelines and Formatting

Registrants may create their own digital project that addresses the overarching Critical Inquiry Question and Critical Inquiry Task for the project (see above in Contest Description). The project can present digital content using different media such as videos, podcasts, interactive stories, virtual reality, slideshows, websites, and any other such media as is applicable and appears in digital format. Registrants will submit a link to their final work as well as a text document containing all text and/or scripts presented online. Regardless of the digital medium selected, the total text, written or spoken, should not exceed 2,000 words, and a digital project should not exceed 5 minutes in performance duration.

Submissions longer than this will not be accepted. The text for each submission should be presented in a Word or PDF document in standard 8.5 by 11 inches (letter) size and portrait orientation.

Please use a regular business font such as Times New Roman or Arial at 12-point size. In all cases, the submission should demonstrate rigorous attention to interdisciplinary research, analysis, knowledge of the topic, and critical thinking skills.

Participants must include footnotes and/or a bibliography of relevant referenced works. Footnotes/endnotes/ bibliographies do not count towards the word count. All submissions must include proper citations following a consistent style.

The suggested citation method for footnotes and endnotes is the Chicago Manual of Style. Guidelines on the style are available here.

Category Prizes

The prize for each category is to be presented to each recipient selected by the review committee. Prizes may be monetary and/or a sponsored gift. Any prize money will be divided between the member(s) of the group selected as recipients.

The number of awards presented will be dependent upon participation. Further details on prizes will be shared on the Recovering Canada page of the Defining Moments Canada website at a later date.

Where to Start

Spanish Flu 101 An Introduction to the Pandemic (PDF) Spanish Flu Themes Micro-Histories Creating Great Stories Fact Finding Teaching Tools Video Resources

Digital Storytelling Inspiration

A Beginner’s Guide to Great Video on Your Phone Everyone from pro photographers to amateur shutterbugs is using phones to shoot video projects. Here’s how you can get started.

Wistia Video Webinars All stories use the same techniques to make their stories evocative, so there is much to learn here. Browse their library of recorded webinars.

The World’s Best Film School Is Free on YouTube How YouTube Became the World’s Best Film School

Video Inspiration Gallery Inspiration for your project with video can come from pretty much anywhere – from a stylish commercial to something you see out on the street! Find some creative examples here.


Ingenium – The Canadian Science and Technology Museum

CURL – The Centre for Undergraduate Research and Learning (Huron College, UWO)

Canadian National Microbiology Lab Canadian Nurses Association Library and Archives Canada

About TC²

The Critical Thinking Consortium (TC²) TC² is a not-for-profit educational organization. The Consortium’s aim is to work in sound, sustained ways with educators and related organizations to inspire, support and advocate for the infusion of critical, creative and collaborative thinking as an educational goal and as a method of teaching and learning. For 25 years, we have been working tirelessly in collaboration with our partners to foster in learners:

  • enhanced abilities and inclinations to think effectively
  • deeper understanding of the curriculum
  • increased engagement in the world
  • greater willingness to act in thoughtful, ethically responsible ways

Defining Moments Canada and the Critical Thinking Consortium (TC²) have collaborated to build pedagogical resources to support teacher and student learning applicable to the 100th anniversary of the Spanish Flu. In phase one of the project, TC² is developing materials to support critical inquiry into this defining moment of Canada’s story. These materials include:

  • an Inquiry Framework that illustrates a cohesive and flexible multi-disciplinary approach to inquiry
  • a lesson template that embeds powerful instructional and assessment practices to support a critical inquiry approach to teaching and learning
  • two anchor lessons – one to launch the inquiry and one to consolidate it
  • assessment tools
  • three lessons that might be used in various different subject areas to support the overarching inquiry

All of this material is available to teachers, museum educators, local heritage groups and University program administrators who register to complete a commemorative project on the Pandemic 1918.

Premium Resources

In the Premium Resources section, you’ll find a collection of exceptional lesson plans (downloadable PDFs) created by the Critical Thinking Consortium, early project examples, and many useful links exclusively for the use of Recovering Canada Contest Registrants. If you have not registered and wish to register now, Click Here.

Terms and Conditions

The prize is non-negotiable and non-transferable. By entering this awards program, the participant agrees that any information sent to Defining Moments Canada becomes the property of Defining Moments Canada to publish online at their discretion and, should they win, a photo may be posted and/or published. Employees of Defining Moments Canada, or any of our partner institutions, or their representatives, agents, or family members, are not eligible. Subject to all applicable laws. Void where prohibited. By accepting a prize, recipients agree to grant the Government of Canada and Defining Moments Canada the right to use their names, photographs, city, and province of residence, biographical information, statements, voice, and likeness for promotional purposes relating the competition in any media or format, now and in the future without a time limit, and without compensation or notification. Entries not complying with these Official Rules may be disqualified. For further questions or comments regarding this contest please contact Tatiana Zamozdra or Neil Orford.

Contest Registration

If you have previously registered for the website, you are already registered for the Contest. If you have not registered and wish to register now, Click Here. For further questions or comments regarding this contest please contact Tatiana Zamozdra or Neil Orford.