Canada’s 2SLGBTQI+ National Monument Breaks Ground!


OTTAWA, ON, May 1, 2024 – Today, shovels broke ground at the site of Canada’s 2SLGBTQI+ National Monument in Ottawa. Called Thunderhead, this monument 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 will celebrate the resilience of all queer and trans communities and serve to inspire the change still needed in Canada.

The Monument’s proponent — the LGBT Purge Fund — marked the historic milestone with members of 2SLGBTQI+ communities, LGBT Purge survivors, the monument’s design team and representatives of the Anishinabe Algonquin Nation and the Government of Canada. Guests heard powerful words from Indigenous leaders and Elders, the Honourable Pascale St-Onge, Minister of Canadian Heritage, and Michelle Douglas (Executive Director) and Martine Roy (Chair) from the LGBT Purge Fund.

Set to open in summer 2025, Thunderhead is being built on unceded and traditional Anishinabe Algonquin Nation territory, close to Portage Bridge and Wellington Street, on the Ottawa River. It is a project of the LGBT Purge Fund and is being developed in collaboration with Canadian Heritage and the National Capital Commission. The Monument 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.

This monument was designed by Winnipeg-based Public City Architecture, Elder Albert McLeod and artists Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan. Within a landscaped park, a massive column is broken apart by a thunderhead cloud from within, just as 2SLGBTQI+ communities have risen up to break barriers and demand justice and equality. Inside, thousands of mirrored tiles reflect diverse identities and hold the memory of queer lives that ended too soon. In Anishinabe teachings, thunderclouds are home to the Thunderers whose storms renew the land and make things right.

This monument, and its words, were developed with input from thousands of 2SLGBTQI+ community members, including Purge survivors and Indigiqueer Elders.

“The 2SLGBTQI+ National Monument is a monument of resilience, determination and hope. 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. 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.”
— Michelle Douglas, Executive Director, LGBT Purge Fund

“As we break ground on this project today, we pay tribute to those who broke barriers for 2SLGBTQI+ people, like myself, to be here today. This monument will be a landmark for commemoration, learning and inspiration for all people in Canada. While on one hand, it is a site of celebration of the progress made, we see the work must continue toward a safe, equal world where everyone can be who they are and love who they love. This monument brings us one step closer to a Canada where diversity and equality will brighten our future and triumph over hate.”
— The Honourable Pascale St-Onge, Minister of Canadian Heritage

“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. 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.”
— Martine Roy, Chair, LGBT Purge Fund


The LGBT Purge Fund is a not-for-profit organization that was 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 the 2SLGBTQI+ National Monument. As the project proponent, the LGBT Purge Fund is providing $14 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 2SLGBTQI+ community.

The LGBT Purge refers to the period between the 1950s and mid-1990s, when the Government of Canada systematically hunted, harassed and fired 2SLGBTQI+ members of the Canadian Armed Forces, the RCMP and the federal public service. Now called “the LGBT Purge,” the discriminatory policy was implemented at the highest levels of the government under the false pretense of national security. The LGBT Purge devastated thousands of lives. It formally ended only after the Government of Canada was taken to court in 1992. Decades later, survivors received some measure of justice in a class action lawsuit won against the government in 2018. Their legacy lives here.

Associated Links

Thunderhead: 2SLGBTQI+ National Monument

LGBT Purge Fund

For more information (media only), please contact:

Mia Hunt
343 777 0709