National LGBTQ2+ monument
November 2021 – Canadian Heritage, the government department whose mandate covers culture, heritage and diversity, will be erecting a monument to LGBTQ2+ people along the Ottawa River between the Library and Archives Canada building on Wellington Street and the Portage Bridge to Gatineau. The monument is a joint project of the Department, the National Capital Commission and the LGBT Purge Fund, which has advocated for the project from the beginning and is funding it in part from money that would have been directed to LGBT people who have died but who would have received compensation for the government’s public service purge of queer folks between the 1950s and 1990s.
According to the LGBT Purge Fund website, the organization is “legally required to use the funds from the LGBT Purge settlement for specific reconciliation and memorialization projects.” Besides the monument, an “exhibition on the LGBT Purge at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg is being planned”, although a launch date for the exhibition has not yet been determined. (The museum has a bit of reconciliation to do of its own.)
Canadian Heritage invited you to vote for your preferred design of the five that made the shortlist. The deadline for your vote was November 28th, but you can still view short videos of each concept on their website. I chose On Common Ground, but each one has its merits and the videos describing them are all quite moving.
The survey afterwards was lengthy and a little ridiculous. It asked you to rate each monument by a long list of objectives. They should have warned you that you needed to take extensive notes when watching each video because there would be a test afterwards. It’s a survey only a government bureaucrat would think would achieve its goals. I filled it out, but took a few guesses towards the end just to get through it. In the end, my choice was largely visceral.
Although the monument will be in Ottawa, it is a national monument that aims to tell the story of Canadians who were “persecuted, abused, dismissed, and marginalized” because of who they were.