A national monument honoring the LGBTQ+ community will be inaugurated in Ottawa in 2025

Construction of a national monument in downtown Ottawa began earlier this week. This monument will pay tribute to the discrimination experienced by people in the 2SLGBTQI+ community across the country.

Survivors of the LGBT purge of the Canadian government gave the first shovelful of earth and the first blow of the pickax alongside Indigenous people and elected officials, this week, near the Ottawa River, at the corner of the Portage Bridge and Rue Wellington.

Ottawa City Councilor, Ariel Troster, was present alongside federal ministers Ginette Petitpas Taylor and Pascale St-Onge. The latter is the first openly lesbian in Canada.

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Pascale St-Onge became the first openly homosexual politician to lead a department in the Government of Canada. (Archive photo)

Photo: The Canadian Press / Justin Tang

There LGBT”,”text”:”purge LGBT”}}”>purge LGBT refers to a period between the 1950s and the mid-1990s during which thousands of members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and the federal public service were subject to discrimination and were often fired because of their sexual orientation.

It’s about a really horrible time of Canadian history that many still ignore, said the executive director of the Purge Fund LGBT, Michelle Douglaswho was demoted and released from FCC in 1989.

I loved serving my country. I was very proud of it, but I was fired because I’m a lesbian and it was a difficult time in my lifedid she say.

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LGBT Purge Fund Executive Director Michelle Douglas (File photo)

Photo: Radio-Canada / Safiyah Marhnouj

She filed suit against the Canadian government following her dismissal, and in 1992 the military officially ended the so-called ban on people LGBTQ+ to serve in the armed forces.

Building a monument that, in part, pays homage to those difficult days is very moving and powerful for people. It’s very moving and very powerful for me.

A quote from Michelle Douglas, Executive Director of the Purge Fund LGBT

A glimmer of hope

The $13 million project, financed by the Purge Fund LGBT, should be inaugurated in the summer of 2025. Ms. Douglas believes that the monument, named Thunderclapis a place for everyone, not just the 2SLGBTQI+ community.

It truly is a beacon of hope and a place where people can come and reflect on the past, marked by many moments of discrimination and oppressionshe said.

This monument also comes at a time when hatred towards the 2SLGBTQI+ community continues to grow.

Cyril Cinder is a drag king for almost ten years. He admitted that he never imagined that there would still be so much discrimination and controversy against cross-dressing performers today.

Today, my events are the subject of protests. I have to deal with incredible hate speechhe said.

>>Portrait of Cyril Cinder, a drag king with a huge wig.>>

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Drag king Cyril Cinder says he sees the monument as a celebration of the queer community. (Archive photo)

Photo: Radio-Canada / Safiyah Marhnouj

For him, this monument is a reminder of all the progress made so far by defenders of the 2SLGBTQI+ community, but also of all the work that remains to be accomplished.

This attack on freedom of sexual expression, we will not tolerate thishe promised.

It is also about celebrating the resilience of survivors of the LGBT”,”text”:”purge LGBT”}}”>purge LGBTadded Cyril Cinderand to give it as a gift to the next generation of the 2SLGBTQI+ community.

The monument is designed around a sculpture that resembles an orange head-shaped cloud, believed to embody strength, activism and hope of the 2SLGBTQI+ community.

With information from Safiyah Marhnoujof CBC News

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