Thunderhead cloud inspires monument to victims of Canada’s “LGBT Purge”

Images courtesy of Team Wrefords
A team made up of Winnipeg-based artists has won a competition to design a memorial to 9,000 employees of the Canadian government who were singled out in the “LGBT Purge” that took place between the 1950s and mid-1990s.

The team is made up consultants such as Architect Public City, artists Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan and indigenous adviser Albert McLeod. Their design was inspired by a “thunderhead” cloud, symbolising the “strength, activism and hope” of Canada’s LGBTQ2+ communities.

The cloud will take the form of a sculpture clad in mirrored tiles situated in a park in Ottawa. There will also be a stage, a “healing circle”, a garden, an orchard and a path documenting the history of the country’s LGBTQ2+ community.

The team was chosen from a shortlist of five, which also included architects MVRDV and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and engineer WSP. The competition was announced in November.

Pablo Rodriguez, minister of Canadian Heritage, said: “Congratulations to the team for their inclusive, innovative and thoughtful design. The concept truly expresses the monument’s objectives to educate, memorialise, 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.”

Liz Wreford, principal landscape architect at Public City, said: “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.”

The purge involved systematic discrimination against, and harassment of, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender members of the Canadian Armed Forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian federal services.

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