LGBTQ2+ National Monument Design Unveiled

A design called "Thunderhead," by a team including contributors from Winnipeg firm Public City, has been selected for construction in Ottawa.

The LGBT Purge Fund has unveiled “Thunderhead” as the winning proposal for the LGBTQ2+ National Monument. The concept was led by a Winnipeg-based team led by Liz Wreford, Peter Sampson and Taylor LaRocque of Public City, with artists Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan, and Albert McLeod, Indigenous and Two-Spirited People subject-matter expert and advisor.The design draws on the symbolism of a thunderhead cloud to embody 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 of “Thunderhead” 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.“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,” says Liz Wreford, Principal Landscape Architect at Public City.

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 Monument will memorialize historic discrimination against LGBTQ2+ people in Canada, including during the LGBT Purge: a widespread campaign — during the 1950s to the 1990s — led by the Canadian Government to expel thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members of the Canadian Armed Forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the federal public service.The National Capital Commission will be responsible for the design development and construction of the Monument. The Monument will reflect the profound impacts of discrimination experienced by Canada’s LGBTQ2+ communities, as well as celebrate the achievements of those who fought for equality, educate visitors, and inspire hope and change for the future.

Completion of the Monument is planned for 2025.