Canada’s Victims of Communism memorial moves ahead

A Canadian national monument dedicated to the victims of dictatorial communist regimes moved forward in an important way this week, with the publication of proposals submitted by the five finalist design teams. The new monument differs in a number of ways from original plans submitted by the Tribute to Liberty group and approved by the previous Conservative government. The monument will be more modest than that which was originally planned for the land in front of the Supreme Court of Canada and will instead be erected in the Garden of Provinces and Territories. The monument’s official name also suggests a tweaking of the overall narrative being presented. Officially called Memorial to the Victims of Communism – Canada, a Land of Refuge, the Department of Canadian Heritage defines the memorial by noting Canada’s “role as a place of refuge for people fleeing injustice and persecution, and honour the millions oppressed by communist regimes.” 

Team Reich-Petch

As many of our readers will know, one of the largest financial supporters of the monument, now estimated at costing $3 million, is the Government of Hungary, which provided 25 million forints, or approximately $115,000 in funding. The irony that the Orbán government is funding a monument which celebrates Canada as a country open to refugees and immigrants from around the world is not lost on us.

Proposal by Team Mills

The $3 million cost of the monument is shared evenly between Canadian Heritage and Tribute to Liberty (the Orbán government provided its contribution to the latter group). The successful proposal will be selected from among the five finalists this summer and the unveiling of the new monument is scheduled for December 2018. The jury, which will provide its recommendation to Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly, includes Canadians from diverse backgrounds, such as Ludwik Klimkowski, chair of Tribute to Liberty and the Vice President of the Canadian Polish Congress, Ruth Derksen, a professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia of Russian Mennonite origins, Nadia Myre, a visual artist from Québec of Algonquin origins (the monument will be erected on Algonquin land), Larry Beasley, Vancouver’s retired director of urban planning and Ted Merrick of Ferris + Associates.

Proposal by “Team Raff.”

Canadians are also invited to share their opinion on the five proposals. The CBC, Canada’s public broadcaster, has created an online poll  and Canadian Heritage is encouraging Canadians to complete an online survey. At the time of publication, nearly 2,000 people voted in the CBC poll on their preferred design and thus far, the one featuring what appears to be the toppled statue of a dictator is tied with a monument that includes 200 bronze blades, with the names of the victims engraved on them. The local Metro News daily wrote, in reference to the space2place proposal, that “Ottawa could be home to the leaning tower of Vladimir Lenin.”

“What it really represents is that moment of transition from the fall of a communist regime into something new,” remarks Jeff Cutler of Space2Place. Mr. Cutler confirmed that the statue does, indeed, depict Vladimir Lenin. “All of the modern-day communism can really trace their roots back to him,” added Mr. Cutler.

Team space2place

Equally popular, based on CBC poll results, is the design submitted by Team Moskaliuk, incorporating the 200 bronze blades.

Team Moskaliuk

“I am eager to hear what Canadians have to say about these designs. Help us decide the best way to honour the victims of oppressive communist regimes, and the many courageous Canadians who fled to find refuge here. Tell us what you think. All of these teams have taken up the challenge, and I thank them for their work and vision,” remarked Ms. Joly.

Mr. Klimkowski added: “Tribute to Liberty warmly welcomes the five finalists’ designs and trusts that the final choice will reflect the experiences of the millions who suffered as victims of communism, and stand as a fitting memorial to those who have perished. We are grateful to the Government of Canada for their ongoing support, and for moving the design process forward.”

The Department of Canadian Heritage, the National Capital Commission and Tribute to Liberty are working jointly on the project.

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