Ontario Reggio Association’s Contextualized History


2024 – We are organizing a Study Week in Reggio Emilia, May 20 – 24


2023 – We host the Mosaic of Marks, Words, Material exhibit and atelier in Toronto, Sudbury, and Ottawa, for one month in each location with French translation available.  We also host the NAREA Winter Conference to open the exhibit.  Local networks are beginning to form in Sudbury, Ottawa, Toronto, and Thunder Bay.


2022 – Piazza ORA 2022 series with Tiziana Filippini with a focus on the role of the educator; study of the catalogue of the Mosaic of Marks, Words, Material exhibit, led by Patty Randall and Gabriela Garcia from NAREA (online)

2022 – study of the booklet “Indications” (online).  The booklet is also translated and published in French by a team of ORA members.

Extreme weather events, including floods and wildfires resulting from climate change continue to have negative impact on communities, forests, plants, animals, insects, air, water and land across the country.


2021 – Piazza ORA 2021 series with Tiziana Filippini, with a focus on intentionality.  We experience seeing how Tiziana analyzes

documentation prepared by educators who are participants in this group, essentially seeing how a pedagogist works. 

2021 – We have our first book study, led by board member Michelle Taylor-Leonhardi, of the book “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer.  Our revamped website is launched.

2021 – Different Drummer Books assumes the role of Canadian distributor for Reggio Children publications when Parentbooks closes (Patti Kirk retired).

In the spring of 2021, the federal government announces the creation of a national child-care system, with financial investments meant to “cut child-care fees to an average of $10 per day” across Canada.

Canadians are informed about thousands of unmarked graves of children at former residential schools.

Mary Simon becomes the first Indigenous woman to be named Governor General of Canada.


2020 – Piazza ORA 2020 is launched, a series of online gatherings with Tiziana Filippini, interspersed with interim gatherings with small group discussions. The intention is to support ongoing research across the province into one aspect of practice.  This series is affected by COVID-19; we continue with the interim gatherings but pause the final two gatherings with Tiziana until schools reopen.

2020 – Spiral of Learning awards are presented to Peter Moss, Jane McCall, (translator for Reggio Children), Rachelle Blanchette (Ministry of Education / translator of Reggio Children material into French) and Patti Kirk (Parentbooks). 

2020 – Our new mission and vision statements are approved at our AGM.

100th anniversary of the birth of Loris Malaguzzi, Gianni Rodari and Nilde Iotti.

The COVID-19 pandemic sweeps the world.  Schools, preschools and infant-toddler centres are closed in Reggio Emilia.  They reopen in the fall.  There were no study groups until spring 2022.  Schools in Ontario closed from mid-March – September 2020, but early education programs were determined to be essential (to support parental employment) and many remained open.

The Government of Canada introduces legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People


2019 – Conference with Tiziana Filippini at The Bishop Strachan School – “There is no path”: Belonging and engaging in a world made of webs of interconnection.  The conference includes a breakout group for Francophone educators, and a display of documentation from programs in Ontario.  This is followed a few weeks later by an online gathering open to conference attendees to discuss the impact of the conference.

16-year-old Norwegian climate activist Greta Thunberg meets with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

The Liberals win the federal election, forming a minority government under Justin Trudeau.


2018 – ORA organizes Canadian Study Week in Reggio Emilia “Pedagogical Documentation as visible listening: Building cultures of childhood and democratic citizenship”.  We host two early years advisors from the Ministry of Education to participate in this week, Laura Sparling and Brittany Bell.  We present the “Spiral of Learning” award to Reggio Children, Istituzione, and Fondazione.

2018 – Speakers event with Peter Moss – “Loris Malaguzzi and the Schools of Reggio Emilia: Telling an alternative narrative about early childhood education”

2018 – Conference at Western University with Tiziana Filippini – “Encounters with a pedagogista: Co-labouring pedagogy as an ethical relationship”.  This event includes an exhibit of documentation from across Ontario at the London Children’s Museum, and opportunity to visit three of London Bridge’s early learning programs

Viola Desmond is selected to be the first woman (other than Queen Elizabeth) to appear on Canadian currency.  She was a successful black businesswoman who was jailed, convicted and fined for defiantly refusing to leave the whites-only section of a movie theatre in 1946 in Nova Scotia.

A Conservative government is elected in Ontario, led by Doug Ford.


2017 – “Languages of Food” event in Guelph led by Rosalba Bortolotti

2017 – a new logo is selected to represent ORA

2017 – Speaker’s Event with Cristina Delgado Vintimilla – “Encounters with a Pedagogista”

2017 – 2018   ORA is a partner with Western University in writing a proposal for the provincially-funded Centre of Excellence.  This proposal was selected.  ORA contributed to leading the Centre until July 2019.

An Ontario Superior Court judge finds that the federal government failed to prevent on-reserve children from losing their Indigenous identity after they were forcibly taken from their homes as part of what’s known as the Sixties Scoop.


2016 – ORA hosts “The Wonder of Learning” exhibit along with numerous professional learning events and “bonfire gatherings” at The Royal York hotel.  This includes hosting the NAREA summer conference at Ryerson University.  Over 7,000 visitors come to see the exhibit.  The exhibit was translated into French by a team organized through ORA.

2016 – ORA forges a relationship between Reggio Children and Parentbooks to make Reggio Children publications available directly in Canada

2016 – Conference at Upper Canada College to close exhibit, with Lella Gandini and Amelia Gambetti; we organize opening and closing receptions to celebrate the exhibit and express appreciation to supporters; presentation of inaugural Spiral of Learning Awards to Lella Gandini, Amelia Gambetti, Carol Anne Wien, and former Ministry of Education Assistant Deputy Minister Jim Grieve in recognition of their significant role in building a context that recognizes the competence and intelligence of children, educators, and families

2016 – Karyn Callaghan is invited to participate in the Reggio Children International Network through NAREA

Canada endorses the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, promising to implement it into Canada’s laws.  However, they state that the Declaration is aspirational only.

The Kindergarten Program document is released, building on the foundations of How Does Learning Happen?


2015 – Study Week in Reggio.  We host two early years advisors from the Ministry of Education to participate in this week, Rachelle Blanchette and Muriel Howden.  Speakers Event with Lella Gandini at Richland Academy – “The Whole School as an Atelier: Constructive Possibilities for Children, Educators, Space and Materials”;

Emergent Curriculum Certificate Series created by Carol Anne Wien launches, coordinated by Ellen Brown.  Profits from registration are donated to ORA.

2015 – “ORA Days” – several Reggio-inspired early learning programs open their doors to visitors

A Liberal government is elected federally.

Prime Minister: Justin Trudeau

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada releases its final report, with 94 calls to action urging all levels of government to work together to change policies and programs in a concerted effort to repair the harm caused by residential schools.

The Child Care and Early Years Act comes into effect in Ontario, a policy statement naming How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years as the provincial framework to guide programming and pedagogy in licensed child care.


2014 – Conference at The Bishop Strachan School with Daniela Lanzi & Laura Rubizzi – “Documentation as relationship”.  The conference includes an exhibit of documentation from schools across the province; “ORA Days” – several Reggio-inspired early learning programs open their doors to visitors.  The Ministry of Education’s pedagogy for early years document, How Does Learning Happen? reflects the influence of Reggio Emilia’s education and cultural project.

2014 – Karyn Callaghan is invited to join the NAREA Board of Directors when Carol Anne Wien retires. 

How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years is released.  To support professional learning related to this document, the Ontario Ministry of Education’s Early Years Division also creates several videos that were posted on its website.  Four ORA board members are featured in these videos.


2013 – Speakers Event with Lella Gandini: “Transformation: The role of the teacher in pedagogical documentation”

2013 – “ORA Days” – numerous Reggio-inspired early learning programs open their doors to visitors

Ontario Early Years Policy Framework is released by Ontario’s Ministry of Education.

Think, Feel, Act: Lessons from Research about Young Children is released, with contributions by four ORA board members


2012 – Conference at The Bishop Strachan School with Daniela Lanzi & Maura Rovacchi – “Inviting Complexity: Deepening our understanding of pedagogical documentation”.  The conference includes an exhibit of documentation from schools across the province.

2012 – Carol Anne Wien is invited to join the NAREA Board of Directors, as one of two representatives from Canada

2012 – 13 – ORA is engaged in ongoing conversations with the Ministry of Education’s Early Years Division while they develop a pedagogy for early years.  The document Think, Feel, Act includes several articles authored by ORA board members.

The Idle No More movement is founded in Canada – a grassroots movement for indigenous sovereignty, indigenous rights and respect for treaties.

Ontario elects its first female premier, Kathleen Wynne.


2011 – Study Week in Reggio Emilia.  We host two early years advisors from the Ministry of Education to participate in this week. (Karen Calligan and Lynne Besner)

Fondazione (Reggio Children Loris Malaguzzi Centre Foundation) is officially established to promote quality education in Reggio Emilia and the world through research.


2010 – Conference at The Bishop Strachan School with Lella Gandini, Stuart Shanker & Carol Anne Wien – “Pedagogy of Relationships”; we organize a bus trip to Chicago to see “The Wonder of Learning” exhibit.

Ontario’s Ministry of Children and Youth Services is brought under the Ministry of Education, and Full Day Kindergarten is launched, staffed by a teacher and an early childhood educator in every classroom.  Jim Grieve became the Assistant Deputy Minister for in the newly formed Early Years Division.

Canada ratifies the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities


2009 – ORA is officially incorporated as a non-profit organization; Jennifer Armstrong leaves The Bishop Strachan School to take a position as Principal at The International School of Geneva.  Our website is launched.  The inaugural Board of Directors includes:

Jennifer Armstrong – (past) president

Karyn Callaghan (faculty, Mohawk College / Charles Sturt University) – incoming president

Allison Barrow (owner-supervisor, Beckenridge Child Care Centre) – treasurer

Carol Anne Wien (faculty, York University)

Gretchen Reynolds (faculty, Algonquin College)

Rosalba Bortolotti (owner, Acorn Children’s Centre)

Anne Marie Coughlin (London Bridge Children’s Centres)

Lorrie Baird (Kawartha Child Care)

Carolyn McGill (Jacob Hespeler Children’s Centres)

Diane Riehl – (Toronto District School Board)

2009 – Conference at The Bishop Strachan School with Lella Gandini, Amelia Gambetti and Jean Clinton – “Building Community with Children”; we organize a bus trip to Indianapolis to see “The Wonder of Learning” exhibit.

The school located at the Loris Malaguzzi International Centre opens, providing education from preschool up to grade 5.

The booklet Indications is published, identifying the criteria which guide the functioning of the early childhood services in Reggio Emilia, giving strength and voice to the rights of children, parents and teachers and promoting increased awareness of the key role of the schools as places producing a culture of childhood and education.


2008 – Conference at The Bishop Strachan School with Carla Rinaldi, Pat Tarr, Carolyn Edwards; Jennifer Armstrong joins the NAREA board of directors.  At this conference it is announced by Jennifer Armstrong that The Ontario Reggio Association has just been formed.  A spiral logo, designed by Peter Stevens, is adopted.

The Wonder of Learning exhibit from Reggio Emilia is inaugurated in Boulder, Colorado


2007 – Closing conference at the Italian Cultural Centre led by Carol Anne Wien, Karyn Callaghan, and artists Jason Avery, Chriseddy, Monica Didur, Marla Panko.  The ad hoc group is disbanded with the closing of the exhibit, but several participants continue to meet, with Jennifer Armstrong taking on a lead role.

Jordan’s Principle is adopted, intended to ensure all First Nations children living in Canada on or off reserve can access the products, services and supports they need, when they need them.  This was the result of tireless work by Cindy Blackstock and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society.

The Ontario government passes the Early Childhood Educators Act. This law establishes the College of Early Childhood Educators


2006 – Opening conference with Lella Gandini and Amelia Gambetti

2006 – 2007 – An ad hoc group representing The Bishop Strachan School, York University, Seneca College and the Toronto District School Board, led by Jennifer Armstrong, then Principal of Junior School at The Bishop Strachan School, brings “The Hundred Languages of Children” exhibit to Toronto.  It was on display at the Toronto Dominion Centre tower, and at the Columbus Community Centre in North York.

Prime Minister of Canada: Stephen Harper

Premier of Ontario: Dalton McGuinty

Loris Malaguzzi International Centre opens in Reggio Emilia; The Dialogue with Places exhibit and the Ray of Light atelier opens in Reggio; The first Reggionarra storytelling event is held in Reggio; the first Reggio Children International Network meeting is held in Reggio, with the objective to promote quality education through deeper exploration of values, collaboration and dialogue