FIRST NATIONS PEACE MONUMENT
DESIGNED BY DOUGLAS CARDINAL
SUPPORTED BY CANADA 150 FUND
Architect's renderings of the First Nations Memorial that will be installed at DeCew House Heritage Park, Thorold. Shifting sunlight, internal lighting, and an inherently graceful curvilinear form create a distinctive and dramatic architectural presence. (Images courtesy Douglas Cardinal, Architect)
Niagara-On-The-Lake – The Government of Canada has awarded the Friends of Laura Secord a Canada 150 Fund grant of $132,500 towards the construction of a memorial designed by world-renowned architect Douglas Cardinal in DeCew House Heritage Park, Thorold, Ontario. The memorial celebrates reconciliation with First Nations peoples and is intended to generate a deeper understanding of the important role First Nations peoples played in the founding of Canada.
Tim Johnson (Mohawk), an advisor to the Friends of Laura Secord who worked for ten years as a senior executive in the Smithsonian Institution's Cardinal-designed National Museum of the American Indian said Cardinal's design for the monument "reveals an unparalleled elegance of thought and mastery of imagination and material." It was through his acquaintance and friendship with Cardinal, as well as that of Larry McDermott, another Friends of Laura Secord advisor, that the architect was drawn into the memorial project. In 2006 they facilitated a rapprochement between Cardinal and the Smithsonian, resulting in an important spirit of reconciliation that was extended to this memorial.
Embedded within the walls of the monument will be two graphic wampum belt symbols - the Hiawatha Wampum Belt, which expresses the Haudenosaunee Great Law of Peace, and the William Claus Pledge of the Crown Wampum Belt, which symbolizes the restoration of peaceful relations among Native allies and the British following the War of 1812.(Images courtesy Douglas Cardinal, Architect)
The memorial has been planned to coincide with Canada's sesquicentennial events celebrating the country's confederation on July 1, 2017. Its contemporary relevance is to be understood in the context of Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Action items outlined in the Commission's report include Commemoration Events, Education, Youth Programs, Health, and Culture.
"This project shows how people from vastly different cultural backgrounds can come together and work together with powerful results," said Valerie Pringle, veteran broadcaster and Honourary Chair of the Friends of Laura Secord. "The monument is a stunning piece of art to recognize another significant contribution of indigenous people."
Cardinal, who is the recipient of numerous architectural awards and 15 honourary doctoral degrees across Canada, was moved by the story of Laura Secord and motivated by the opportunity to make a lasting artistic impression upon the landscape of the Niagara Escarpment.
A digitally interpreted trail leading from the encampment site in DeCew's Field (St. Catharines) to the monument at DeCew House Park (Thorold) will provide a compelling educational experience. The monument will allow interactive reflection upon events that took place in Niagara but which were echoed across the nation – events which symbolize the wide range of First Nations contributions to the formation of the nation and which deserve to be recognized, shared, and celebrated collectively by all Canadians in our sesquicentennial year and beyond.
The goal of the Canada 150 Fund is to create opportunities for Canadians to participate in local, regional, and national celebrations that contribute to building a sense of pride and attachment to Canada.
The Friends of Laura Secord is a not-for-profit community group which was formally established in October 2010 to preserve, strengthen and perpetuate the legacy of Canadian heroine Laura Secord.
Friends of Laura Secord
Caroline McCormick President
P.O. Box 509, Niagara on the Lake, ON L0S 1J0