An Evolved National Monument

In March 2022, we announced that “Team Thunderhead,” led by Public City Architecture in Winnipeg, won the competition to design the 2SLGBTQI+ National Monument. The selection of the winning team was made by the Monument’s jury, which carefully considered feedback from our Indigenous Circle, our Monument Advisory Committee, the National Capital Commission and the public.

Over this last year, in response to feedback from these stakeholders and rightsholders, and from the LGBT Purge Fund, the design has been refined and enhanced. What was a winning concept has been developed into a full-fledged, detailed design. While some aspects of the design may still be adjusted, we are thrilled to share some renderings of the evolved design.

In response to feedback and safety concerns, the original bridge and ramp was removed, focusing attention on the central element of the column and Thunderhead within. The site has also been opened to increase access, a sense of space and visibility.

The central sculpture, reminiscent of a thunderhead cloud clad in mirrored tiles, now has larger openings and simplified forms. It continues to embody the strength, activism and hope of 2SLGBTQI+ communities.

The tribute area has been lowered and opened up to the rest of the site. It now centres on a sugar maple tree and includes seating. The major interpretative panel, seen on the right, provides ample space to host educational content about the LGBT Purge and wider discrimination against 2SLGBTQI+ people in Canada, including the insidious impacts of colonialism on Two-Spirit folks.

The Medicinal Garden remains an essential design feature, set within the system of winding paths.

The fire pit and healing circle and firepit has been enhanced with multi-level seating. The design still brings together stones hand-picked by Two-Spirit Elders from the 13 territories and provinces.

Overall, the site has been widened, and the new plan creates more buffers along the busy river-side path. Through additional trees, berming and interior paths, the monument’s landscape will have a greater sense of intimacy. Spaces for contemplation are found throughout the site and increase as visitors move from the entrance at the southwest towards the fruit orchard in the northeast.

The stage has been enlarged and further developed. It will include enhanced stage lighting, making the monument an incredible place to party. Inauguration in 2025 cannot come soon enough!

Our sincere thanks to the brilliant design team for their creative genius and problem-solving. That’s: Public City’s Liz Wreford, Peter Sampson, Taylor LaRocque and Maggie Bonnetta; artists Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan; and Two-Spirit subject-matter expert and advisor Albert McLeod. Thanks as well to our collaborators at Canadian Heritage and the National Capital Commission for moving this project forward with grace and speed.

Special Gifts

The LGBT Purge Fund is honored to keep two eagle feathers: one gifted at the Monument’s First Indigenous Circle by Leigh Thomas, a Two-Spirit non-binary veteran from Pelican Lake First Nation; and the other by Two-Spirit Eagle Clan Michif person from St Boniface, Manitoba and citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario, Benny Michaud. These feathers represent both suffering and resilience.

Benny also created this beautiful and thoughtfully beaded case to carry the feathers. Benny told us that:

“The three poppies are for all Indigenous peoples impacted by the Purge (First Nations, Métis and Inuit). The various stems leading out to the berries represent dreams cut short. The budding flowers represent new beginnings and a return to wellness. There are four, representing the spiritual, mental, emotional and physical, the directions and the four sacred waters. All are connected and a part of who we are.”

The Fund carries these feathers as reminders of our connections to natural and spiritual worlds and as symbols of truth-telling. We are sincerely grateful to Benny and Leigh.