Canada will soon have a national monument to honour LGBTQ2S+ communities that features a cloud-shaped, disco-ball inspired structure, as well as stages that can be used for protests and performances, CTV News has learned.
The winning design for the planned federal monument — meant to commemorate and honour the victims and survivors of Canada’s so-called LGBTQ2S+ purge and others in the community who have been marginalized for who they are — will be revealed on Thursday.
Public feedback was solicited on a shortlist of five designs in November 2021, and a jury of experts in the fields of visual arts, landscape architecture, and urban design, as well as purge survivors and other stakeholders were consulted as part of the selection process.
Called “Thunderhead,” the chosen design will be built in Ottawa, on a portion of land behind and to the left of Parliament Hill, between Wellington Street and the Ottawa River, near the Portage Bridge to Quebec. The monument is scheduled to be completed in 2025.
According to the design proposal, a curved wall at the opening of the site includes information about the purge, and 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. A thunderhead is a rounded, cumulus cloud that appears before a thunderstorm.
Representatives from the LGBT Purge Fund and Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez will be making the announcement about the winning design on Thursday morning, alongside members of the design team.
A rendering of the winning design proposal for the LGBTQ2S+ National Monument that will be built in Ottawa. (Canadian Heritage)
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.
In their submission video talking about their design, the team — comprised of architecture firm Public City Inc., visual artists Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan, and Indigenous and two-spirit adviser Albert McLeod — said they were the only all-Canadian team in consideration.
“We were talking about how a thunderhead brings a sense of awe, and it brings a sense of fear, and it can be destructive, but it can also provide growth and it can provide new life. It’s as if we tried to contain the clouds that disappeared. It just left an imprint of itself within the monument and the void becomes the monument,” said team member Liz Wreford in the video.
“It needs to be a place for people to be seen and heard, and given a voice. It can be a place for big performances or really intimate moments,” Wreford said.
The monument is estimated to cost $8 million, with the money 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 settlement agreement earmarked $15 million for memorial activities including museum exhibits, possible archival projects, and the erecting of a national monument.
With files from CTV News Ottawa
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