Friday, May 24, 2024

Construction begins on LGBTQ2S+ national monument in Ottawa

Must read

Shovels have hit the ground for construction on Canada’s LGBTQ2S+ national monument in Ottawa.

The historic milestone was commemorated at an event on Wednesday afternoon hosted by the LGBT Purge Fund with the monument’s design team and attended by representatives from the Anishinabe Algonquin Nation and the federal government.

The monument, called Thunderhead, is being built to commemorate and honour the victims of Canada’s LGBTQ2S+ purge and others in the community who have been marginalized for who they are.

The monument will be built in Ottawa, on a portion of land tucked behind the Supreme Court of Canada at the intersection of Wellington Street and the Portage Bridge to Quebec, close to the Ottawa River.

The design was conceived by a team based in Winnipeg, and includes architecture firm Public City Inc.’s Liz Wreford, Peter Sampson and Taylor LaRocque; visual artists Dempsey and Lorri Millan; and Indigenous and two-spirit adviser Albert McLeod.

A rendering of the winning design proposal for the LGBTQ2S+ National Monument that will be built in Ottawa. (Canadian Heritage)

Based on the current design plans, the monument will have a curved wall at the opening of the site that includes information about the purge. The structure features two levels that allow visitors to view it from the ground and from above, as well as a fire pit meant for small gatherings or vigils, and a larger stage that can be used for bigger events or performances.

The monument is estimated to cost at least $8 million, with the funding coming from the LGBT Purge Fund. The fund is a non-profit corporation established in 2018 to manage the millions of dollars provided as part of the settlement of a class-action lawsuit between the federal government and members of the LGBTQ2S+ community who had their careers sidelined by what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called “a campaign of oppression.”

The purge saw thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Canadians actively discriminated against, interrogated, and fired or demoted from their jobs in the Canadian Armed Forces, the RCMP, and the federal public service between the 1950s and 1990s.

“It is not only a monument for LGBT Purge survivors, but for every 2SLGBTQI+ person in Canada who has experienced discrimination and exclusion because of who they are, who they love and how they express themselves,” said LGBT Purge Fund executive director Michelle Douglas. “The Thunderhead monument is the product of countless hearts, minds and journeys. Thanks are due to thousands of community members who helped make it what it is. Tall, proud, and unabashedly queer, it is a monument for all and a place to write the stories yet to come.”

The creation of the monument was mandated by the Federal Court as part of the settlement, with the agreement earmarking $15 million for memorial activities including museum exhibits, possible archival projects, and the erecting of a national monument.

Artist Dominic Laporte touches up his chalk mural of pastel clouds before a ceremony marking the construction of Thunderhead: Canada’s 2SLGBTQI+ National Monument, in Ottawa, on Wednesday, May 1, 2024. (Justin Tang/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

“I am one of the many queer women who were unjustly arrested, interrogated and dishonourably discharged from the Canadian Armed Forces. This trauma propelled me to fight hard to be my authentic self in the workplace and create a space for others to do the same,” said LGBT Purge Fund chair Martine Roy. “Thunderhead is a symbol of how far we’ve come at a time when discrimination and hatred against 2SLGBTQI+ people is growing more visible. This monument will serve to honour our history for generations to come. It will be a light for those still facing exclusion and for the change we will continue to work for.”

The National Capital Commission (NCC) will oversee the development and construction of the monument. It is scheduled to be completed in 2025.

With files from CTV News’ Rachel Aiello

Latest article