March 24, 2022
A national monument — inspired by a dramatic thundercloud — is to be built in Ottawa by 2025.
The winning design, featuring a silver mirrored mosaic interior influenced by a thunderhead cloud and disco balls, was unveiled today at an event attended by Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez.
The $8-million monument, designed by a team including Winnipeg landscape architects Public City, will include a viewing platform, stage, herb garden, healing circle and seating areas.
Visual artist Shawna Dempsey, one of the design team members, said the “110-per-cent queer” monument was meant to be used by everyone.
Rodriguez said the design was “inclusive, innovative and thoughtful” adding that it is vital to remember Canada’s history of institutionalized homophobia and transphobia.
“The concept truly expresses the monument’s objectives to educate, memorialize, celebrate and inspire and provides a safe space for both celebration and reflection,” he said. “It will forever serve as a testament to the strength, courage and determination of the LGBTQ2+ community in Canada.”
The monument, which will give visitors views of Ottawa and its namesake river, is expected to be completed by 2025. It was designed following consultation with members of the LGBTQ community, including two-spirit Indigenous people.
New Democrat Blake Desjarlais, a two-spirit MP, said the memorial was a “huge achievement for our country” and also “a reminder” that hard-won freedoms could easily be lost.
“Canada is not immune to intolerance or prejudice,” he said.
The monument will be paid for by the LGBT Purge Fund with money from the settlement of a class-action lawsuit against the Canadian government following systematic discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members of the Canadian Armed Forces, RCMP and federal public service.
Michelle Douglas, executive director of the fund, said the monument “will stand as both a beacon of inspiration and a reminder of the pain of discrimination.”
In 2017, Justin Trudeau formally apologized to Canadians who were criminally charged or fired from the military or Canada’s public service because of their sexual orientation.
A national security purge led to the firing of thousands of Canadians in the military, RCMP and public service because of their sexual orientation starting in the 1950s.
Before 1966, many Canadians were criminally charged and convicted of gross indecency because they were gay.