News / Ottawa

Government selects winner for victims of communism memorial

Curved metal wall called Arc of Memory selected as winning design.

Arc of Memory, is an abstract bronze sculpture that reflects light in different ways based on sunlight.

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Arc of Memory, is an abstract bronze sculpture that reflects light in different ways based on sunlight.

The federal government has selected the design for the Memorial to the Victims of Communism, which they hope to unveil by November 2018.

The winner, called Arc of Memory, is an abstract bronze sculpture that reflects light in different ways based on sunlight.

“It remembers victims of oppression, but expresses hope,” lead artist Paul Raff told reporters Wednesday morning. “It invites fascination and exploration.”

The sculpture consists of two curved wall-like metal frames that span 21 metres and rises about four metres in height.

They hold more than 4,000 bronze rods along 365 steel fins, meaning the sun shines at a unique fold in the sculpture daily, reaching the middle at the winter solstice.

That’s an intended metaphor, as it’s the darkest day of the year, Raff said. “Every moment in this vast history is made visible and tangible.”

In early March, the government announced five proposals and 717 people completed a survey, with results splitting close among the proposals. Arc of Memory was rated highest for being “visually striking” and conveying “hope and freedom,” but the lowest for expressing “suffering and loss."

Heritage Minister Joly hand-selected the design after input from a jury.

Another proposal that would show a Vladmir Lenin statue being toppled, a symbol of countries rejecting communism, gained the most media attention, but upset some diaspora groups, according to Andris Ķesteris of the Latvian National Federation in Canada.

“It would work counter to the concept of freedom, actually putting up these oppressors,” said Ķesteris, compared it to a statue of a falling Hitler.

The Tribute to Liberty charity has raised $1 million for the project, which should cost about $3 million. The government said it will match donations up to $1.5 million, and has already allocated $500,000 for construction costs.

The memorial will carry the name “Canada, a Land of Refuge” and it will be built on the west side of the Garden of the Provinces and Territories, a seldom-used park near the Portage Bridge, where condos are being built.

The memorial has been talked about since 2008; the former Conservative government controversially planned its site in front of the Supreme Court, which judges rejected.

Czech Ambassador Pavel Hrnčíř told Metro he hopes this projects goes over better with Ottawans. “We’re very happy to see this project realized,” he said.

Far-left groups have noted that capitalist societies have oppressed people, and recommended the memorial instead tackle totalitarianism.

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