It was one year ago today that people across Canada learned of the death of Jack Layton, and in the days following the shocking news there were spontaneous displays of grief and remembrance across the country.

In Toronto this evening there will be a special memorial ceremony at Nathan Phillips Square. Below, we share the announcement and program from the Broadbent Institute. Similar events are taking place in many cities and towns across Canada. Follow us on Twitter @rabbleca for live updates from the proceedings in Toronto.

Remembering Jack Layton: A celebration of love, hope and optimism

One year after Jack Layton’s passing, his message of love, hope and optimism will once again fill Nathan Phillips Square in a celebration of Layton’s life and the unforgettable mark he left on Canada.

On Wednesday, August 22, the Layton family, together with the Broadbent Institute, will remember Jack with music and words, as hundreds of images and messages from Canadians will be displayed in the public square.

“I look forward to joining my family and friends to celebrate Jack’s legacy,” said Olivia Chow. “Jack’s letter to Canadians inspired many, but it was also a call to action for working together to create a better Canada.”

Over the last four weeks, the DearJack.ca initiative has gathered messages from Canadians sharing the ways in which Layton inspired them.

“The outpouring of support that we have received as a family over the past 12 months and recently on dearjack.ca has given us new-found hope and optimism – all things that my dad wanted so badly for the country,” said Mike Layton.

Like the online component of the initiative, Dear Jack: A Celebration will celebrate the collective efforts of Canadians working to build a more progressive country for future generations. Scheduled performers include:

· Jason Collett, songwriter, storyteller & musician

· Ron Sexsmith, Juno-award winning singer-songwriter

· Lorraine Segato, singer-songwriter, Parachute Club

· Raffi, singer

· Eric Peterson of Corner Gas, Gemini-winner

· Wendy Crewson, actress and producer

· Richard Underhill , of the Shuffle Demons, Juno-award winner

· Chalkmaster Dave, Toronto-based street artist


“Not only did Jack inspire people on a personal level, he helped them to believe in a more loving, more hopeful Canada. This celebration will be an amazing tribute,” said Kathleen Monk , Executive Director of the Broadbent Institute.

Across the country, other events will be hosted in Jack’s honour.

Derrick O'Keefe

Derrick O'Keefe

Derrick O'Keefe is a writer in Vancouver, B.C. He served as rabble.ca's editor from 2012 to 2013 and from 2008 to 2009.