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Celebrating Canada's 2SLGBTQI+ Communities

Construction Has Started On Canada's 2SLGBTQI+ National Monument In Ottawa

ABOVE: A rendering of Thunderhead, the 2SLGBTQI+ monument set to open in 2025 in Ottawa

Construction Has Started On Canada’s 2SLGBTQI+ National Monument In Ottawa

The national 2SLGBTQI+ monument in Ottawa — inspired by a dramatic thundercloud — has broken ground and is set to open in 2025…

Construction is now underway for a national monument in downtown Ottawa recognizing the discrimination faced by 2SLGBTQI+ people across the country. Called Thunderhead, this monument was first announced back in spring 2022 and is being built to recognize historic discrimination faced by generations of 2SLGBTQI+ people in Canada, including the colonial roots of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia and the cruelty of the Canadian government during the LGBT Purge. It is intended to celebrate the resilience of all queer and trans communities and serve to inspire the change still needed in Canada.

“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.”

Survivors of the Canadian government’s LGBT purge dug shovels and broke ground alongside Indigenous elders and government officials on Wednesday afternoon, near the Ottawa River by Portage Bridge and Wellington Street, tucked behind the Supreme Court of Canada.

The LGBT purge refers to a period of time between the 1950s and mid-1990s, where thousands of members of the RCMP, Canadian Armed Forces and the federal public service were discriminated against and often fired from their jobs because of their sexuality.

“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.”

Set to open in summer 2025, Thunderhead is a project of the LGBT Purge Fund and is being developed in collaboration with Canadian Heritage and the National Capital Commission. The $13 million project is being paid for through proceeds of a 2018 class action settlement won against the Government of Canada. The lawsuit was launched by survivors of the LGBT Purge – a government campaign that systematically hunted, harassed and fired 2SLGBTQI+ members of the Canadian Armed Forces, the RCMP and the federal public service between the 1950s and mid-1990s. These funds would have gone to LGBT Purge victims had they lived long enough to make a claim. 

The design of the monument centres around a sculpture shaped similar to a thunderhead cloud, meant to “embody the strength, activism and hope” of 2SLGBTQ+ communities. 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.

Thunderhead is currently scheduled to be completed in 2025.

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A New National LGBTQ2S+ Monument In Ottawa Is Set For 2025

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