Design for the LGBTQ2+ National Monument revealed

News release

OTTAWA, March 24, 2022

A bold and dynamic design has been chosen for the LGBTQ2+ National Monument to be built in downtown Ottawa. Today, the Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage, and the Honourable Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, as well as the project proponent, the LGBT Purge Fund, unveiled “Thunderhead” as the winning concept.

This design draws on the symbolism of a thunderhead cloud, which embodies the strength, activism and hope of LGBTQ2+ communities. It will be a lasting testimony to the courage and humanity of those who were harmed by the LGBT Purge, homophobic and transphobic laws and norms, and Canada’s colonial history. Elements include a sculpture that creates the imprint of a thunderhead cloud in mirrored tile, a pathway through a landscaped park that traces the history of LGBTQ2+ people in Canada and a healing circle ringed with stones hand-picked by Two-Spirit Elders. The monument surroundings will allow for large gatherings, performances and places for quiet reflection.

“Thunderhead” was conceived by a team based in Winnipeg that includes Liz Wreford, Peter Sampson and Taylor LaRocque of Public City; visual artists Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan; and Albert McLeod, Indigenous and Two-Spirited People subject-matter expert and advisor.

The winning design was selected by a jury that evaluated the five finalist designs against criteria identified in the Request for Proposals. As part of their deliberations, the jury also considered the results of an online survey open to stakeholders and the public, as well as feedback received from the Monument’s Indigenous Circle participants and the Monument Advisory Committee, which includes LGBT Purge survivors and affected community members.

The jury included experts in the fields of landscape architecture, visual arts, architecture and urban design, as well as LGBT Purge survivors, representatives from key stakeholder groups and subject-matter specialists.

Quotes

“Congratulations to the team for their inclusive, innovative and thoughtful design. The concept truly expresses the monument’s objectives to educate, memorialize, celebrate and inspire, and provides a safe space for both celebration and reflection. This monument will be the first of its kind. It will forever serve as a testament to the strength, courage and determination of the LGBTQ2+ community in Canada.”

—The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage

“Congratulations Team Wreford! I’m moved by the stories that inspired your design and I look forward to the ceremonies and commemorations that will fill the space. Your design embodies resilience, truth and hope in a pivotal time in our history. As reflected in your ‘Thunderhead’ design, we acknowledge the wrongs of the past and we are committed to building a better future. This monument is an important step towards honouring survivors and building an inclusive Canada that stands alongside LGBTQ2 communities from coast to coast to coast.”

—The Honourable Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth

“We are thrilled by the powerful, captivating and extraordinary design proposed by Team Wreford. Their design concept not only embraces the vision for this monument, but it is a stunning and important landmark for the LGBTQ2+ community. It will stand as both a beacon of inspiration and a reminder of the pain of discrimination. We are already dreaming of the day when the monument will be open for all to visit and experience. We are also grateful for the passionate and bold designs proposed by the other four design teams, and feel honoured by their impressive contributions.”

—Michelle Douglas, Executive Director, LGBT Purge Fund

“We are both proud and honoured to be chosen to create this monument to the resiliency of the LGBTQ2+ community. We look forward to continuing to work with our amazing team and community stakeholders in the design of the disco-ball thunderhead. This monument will be a symbol of celebration and a space for reflection, healing, activism and performance for generations to come.”

—Liz Wreford, Principal Landscape Architect at Public City

Quick facts

  • The LGBT Purge Fund is a not-for-profit corporation established in 2018 to manage memorialization and reconciliation projects mandated by the terms of the LGBT Purge class action settlement. The Fund is responsible for building an LGBTQ2+ National Monument that will “memorialize the historical discrimination against LGBTQ2+ people in Canada, including with respect to the LGBT Purge.” As the project proponent, the LGBT Purge Fund is providing a minimum of $8 million for the project and is working with Canadian Heritage and the National Capital Commission to ensure the Monument meets the objectives of the settlement agreement and embodies the vision developed with Purge survivors and Canada’s wider LGBTQ2+ community.

  • The LGBTQ2+ National Monument will tell the story of generations of LGBTQ2+ people in Canada who have been persecuted, abused, dismissed and marginalized because of who they love and how they identify. It will acknowledge historic discrimination experienced by LGBTQ2+ communities and the abuse perpetrated by the Canadian state, including during the LGBT Purge. While recognizing enduring injury and injustice, the LGBTQ2+ National Monument will educate, memorialize, celebrate and inspire diversity and inclusion in Canadian society. It will be guided by principles of inclusion, Indigeneity, visibility and timelessness.

  • The monument will be located at the northeast side of Wellington Street, next to the Ottawa River, close to the Judicial Precinct. The LGBT Purge Fund selected the site after consultations with LGBTQ2+ communities. The National Capital Commission approved the choice of the site in January 2020. 

  • The LGBT Purge refers to the period when lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members of the Canadian Armed Forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian federal public service were systematically discriminated against, harassed and often fired as a matter of policy and sanctioned practice, due to their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

  • Over time, survivors and their allies worked hard to secure apologies, gain recognition, win compensation and change Canadian law. A ground-breaking legal settlement was reached in 2018. Canada was the first country in the world to provide substantial compensation for the harm inflicted on its own people through decades of state-sponsored discrimination. 

  • The next steps are the detailed design development of the winning concept followed by construction of the monument. It is scheduled to be completed in 2025.

  • Key milestones for this project may need to be adjusted given the COVID-19 pandemic. All decisions on these matters will be made under advisement from public health authorities.

Associated links

Contacts

For more information (media only), please contact:

Laura Scaffidi
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage
laura.scaffidi@pch.gc.ca

Johise Namwira
Press Secretary and Issues Manager
Office of the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth
johise.namwira@cfc-swc.gc.ca

Media Relations
Canadian Heritage
819-994-9101
1-866-569-6155
media@pch.gc.ca

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