The Obituary Project

They Were Loved: Honouring Canada's COVID-19 victims

They were loved: The Maclean's Obituary Project

The magnitude of COVID-19’s impact on Canadians’ lives is difficult to fathom. Canada has already lost nearly 9,000 people to the pandemic, with the number ticking steadily upwards; each of those losses has cascaded through families and communities, leaving many thousands more bereaved. Public health guidance around social distancing has resulted in restrictions around traditional mourning customs and rituals—heart-wrenchingly, many were unable even to say goodbye.

Maclean’s is launching They Were Loved, an obituary project to commemorate thousands of coronavirus victims, as well as to mark this historic moment in Canadian history. Our goal: to pay tribute to every Canadian who has died or will die of COVID-19. In partnership with Carleton University’s Future of Journalism Initiative and journalism schools across Canada, we are striving to capture the richness of each life lost in elegant obituaries.

The years-long project has received a generous seed donation from The Giustra Foundation, which supports initiatives focused on women and children, health and education, homelessness and refugee resettlement. “As a Canadian and a philanthropist, I am proud to be supporting the obituary project that Maclean’s is undertaking in conjunction with the country’s leading journalism schools to commemorate the lives of our fellow citizens who we have lost during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic,” says Frank Giustra. “I am honoured that The Giustra Foundation is serving as the initial funder for this important and timely effort, and I encourage other individuals, foundations and companies to join us in ensuring that we remember those who were taken from us too soon.”

Maclean’s and Carleton’s Future of Journalism Initiative are working closely with Canadian journalism programs, whose students will research and write the obituaries. In this way, the project engages some of Canada’s youngest in paying tribute to some of the country’s oldest, while also providing invaluable experience reporting a pivotal moment in history. “In addition to remembering those who have succumbed to COVID-19, I appreciate that the project will also support the emerging generation of engaged journalists in Canada,” says Giustra.

Maclean’s will routinely publish a selection of obituaries in our monthly print edition, while all the obituaries will be published on a dedicated page on our website. We invite anyone interested in speaking about a loved one to contact us.

If you would like your loved one included in this project, please email: theywereloved@macleans.ca

If you are an individual who would like to make a donation to contribute to the cost of editing and organizing the project, please refer to: futurefunder.carleton.ca/giving-fund/future-of-journalism-journalist-in-residence. Tax receipts will be issued for donations of more than $10.

If you are a foundation and would like more information about funding the project, please email: diane.chea@carleton.ca

If you are a journalism school and would like to join the project, please email: katherine.laidlaw@carleton.ca

This project is made possible with initial support from

Participating journalism schools:

First Nations University of Canada
Algonquin College
Carleton University
Seneca College
University of King’s College
University of Ottawa
Humber College
Centennial College/University of Toronto Scarborough
Kwantlen Polytechnic University
Mount Royal University
Sheridan College
Western University
Ryerson University