Thunderhead design chosen for National LGBTQ2+ Monument in Ottawa


A plant-filled park with a glittering thunder sculpture at its center is the winning design for a new monument in Ottawa to honor the victims of its LGBTQ2+ purge.

The National LGBTQ2+ Monument is a partnership between the federal government and the LGBT Purge Fund, which was created following the settlement of a class action lawsuit against the government.

This lawsuit grew out of the so-called gay purge, during which several thousand Canadians were investigated, punished and sometimes expelled between 1955 and 1996.

The Purge Fund’s executive director, Michelle Douglas, announced on Wednesday that Team Wreford’s design won the competition.

The monument will feature a mirrored thundercloud inside a large column, with a stage outside for performances and demonstrations, and space inside the thundercloud for more intimate events.

A view of the interior of the monument, which can accommodate intimate events such as vigils. (Team Wreford)

“Our design embodies the strength, activism and hope of the LGBTQ2+ community, and is an enduring testament to the courage and humanity of those who have been harmed by the purge, homophobic and transphobic laws and norms, and Canada’s colonial history,” design winners Team Wreford said in their pitch.

“He stands up as our community stood up to say, ‘We demand change’.”

The area around the monument will include an orchard, a medicinal garden, a healing circle with stones chosen by two-spirit Indigenous elders, and a path tracing LGBTQ2+ history in Canada, according to the proposal.

The monument is expected to be completed in 2025.

The Wreford team launched the Thunderhead as a symbol of a community rising up to demand change. (Team Wreford/Government of Canada)

The Wreford team is tied to Winnipeg. Architects Public City Inc. are based there, as are visual artists Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan. Councilor Albert McLeod lives there and has family background in the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation of Manitoba and the M├ętis community of Norway House.

The monument will hold in a grassy area at the Ottawa end of the Portage Bridge, which connects Ontario and Quebec over the Ottawa River, just west of Parliament Hill.

The winning design was chosen from a pool of five potential designs that had been released in November 2021 for public comment.

In addition to the central thunder sculpture, the winning design includes an LGBTQ2+ history trail and a healing circle made of stones chosen by two-spirit Indigenous elders. (Team Wreford/Government of Canada)

WATCH | Five proposals for the LGBTQ2+ national monument unveiled:

Five Proposals for LGBTQ2+ National Monument Unveiled

Michelle Douglas, executive director of the LGBT Purge Fund, said the monument will honor the victims of the LGBTQ2+ purge, in which thousands of federal employees were fired because of their sexual orientation. 1:45