The mural is the message for Canadian Nurses Association

Who: The Canadian Nurses Association, with Venture Play for strategy, creative and media, and Thinkingbox for the campaign’s augmented reality component.

The Canadian Nurses Association members and executives assemble at a 28-storey mural in downtown Toronto entitled “We Are Nurses — We Answer the Call.” The landmark art piece, featuring an Augmented Reality overlay telling nurses’ stories, was unveiled at an official dedication ceremony on Valentine’s Day. (CNW Group/Canadian Nurses Association)

What: “We Are Nurses — We Answer the Call,” a public awareness campaign reminding Canadians of the enormous contribution—and sacrifices—made by the country’s nurses during the pandemic.

When & Where: The campaign is anchored by a giant mural at the Dixon Hall shelter, close to Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square. The mural will be in place for the rest of the year.

Why: The campaign is part of a broader awareness push by the CNA, which is calling for a national coordinating body to address critical health workforce gaps by improving the retention and recruitment of nurses through enhanced data collection.

The group is also calling for safer working conditions, including more mental health resources for health care workers, and additional efforts to ensure safe patient-to-nurse ratios.

According to the CNA, Canada’s nurses are bearing the brunt of the pandemic as it stretches into its second year. Preliminary studies by the Healthy Professional Worker Partnership found that one-third of nurses have given serious thought to leaving their current job, or even the profession entirely. In addition, a recent poll from Canada Life and Mental Health Research Canada, in which CNA was a participant, found that 66% of nurses report workplace burnout, well above the national average of 35%.

How: Designed by the artist collective Oneday Creates—which describes itself as “a creative team finding unique ways to deliver impactful messages and connect with the public across a variety of mediums”—the 28-storey mural depicts four nurses looking out over the city. It also features a QR code that launches an augmented reality component that brings the nurses to life via voiceovers and links to stories from the front lines of Canadian healthcare. Scanning the code also takes viewers to a dedicated landing page at

It’s designed to build on the momentum created by last year’s video timed for National Nursing Week that introduced the CNA’s new corporate mantra, #WeAnswerTheCall. “It went over really well, and when we were looking at what we wanted to do next, we wanted to go way beyond the video and create something that would [celebrate] nurses in a way that was very big and public,” said Venture Play’s executive creative director, Dan Strasser. “We wanted to show them that Canadians have their backs.”

The mural is the message: Last year, YWCA Metro Vancouver unveiled a 42-foot high installation called “The Wall for Women,” which contained a series of hidden QR codes that provided information about the prevalence of domestic violence when people held their phone over them.

And we quote: “Without nurses, there can be no health-care. We need nurses to know that people living in Canada have their backs. We hope every nurse that sees this mural is reminded of this sentiment and hopefully of the concrete positive actions spurred in the wake of this crisis.” — Tim Guest, president, Canadian Nurses Association

Chris Powell