Construction begins on national monument to honour 2SLGBTQ+ community

Opinion: Stop this Marxist agenda. We already welcome the world to Canada no matter who they are. Why so much attention to people that have sex with their sane sex. or make up genders. We are more than sexual beings.

Monument ’emotional and powerful’ for survivors of Canada’s LGBT purge dating back to 1950s

A group of people stand and dig shovels into the ground.
Survivors of Canada’s LGBT purge and political leaders participated in a ground breaking ceremony Wednesday afternoon near the future site of Thunderhead, a national 2SLGBTQ+ monument. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Construction is now underway for a national monument in downtown Ottawa recognizing the discrimination faced by 2SLGBTQ+ people across the country.

Survivors of the Canadian government’s LGBT purge dug shovels and broke ground alongside Indigenous elders and government officials on Wednesday afternoon, near the Ottawa River by Portage Bridge and Wellington Street.

Ottawa Coun. Ariel Troster, Veterans Affairs Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor, and Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge, Canada’s first openly lesbian cabinet minister, were among the politicians in attendance.

The LGBT purge refers to a period of time between the 1950s and mid-1990s, where thousands of members of the RCMP, Canadian Armed Forces and the federal public service were discriminated against and often fired from their jobs because of their sexuality.

It was a “really awful period” of Canadian history that many are still unaware of, said Michelle Douglas, executive director of the LGBT Purge Fund. She was honourably discharged from the Canadian Armed Forces in 1989.

A woman smiling at the camera against a colourful chalk graffiti background.
Michelle Douglas, executive director of the LGBT Purge Fund, was honourably discharged from the military in 1989 because of her sexuality. Douglas says the monument serves a ‘beacon of hope’ for the entire community.(Safiyah Marhnouj/CBC)

“I loved serving my country. I was so proud of it, but I was fired because I am a lesbian and it was a difficult period in my life,” she said.

Douglas launched a lawsuit against the Canadian government following her discharge, a case that, when settled out of court in 1992, marked the end of what was essentially a ban against 2SLGBTQ+ people serving in the armed forces.

“To see a monument now being built that pays, in part, tribute to those pretty difficult days. It’s very emotional and powerful for me,” Douglas said.

‘A beacon of hope’

Douglas said she sees the monument, called Thunderhead, as a place for everyone, not just the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

“It’s really a beacon of hope and a place for people to come and reflect on the past, which has had lots of moments of discrimination and oppression,” she said.

The monument also comes at a time of rising hate against the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

Cyril Cinder is a drag king who has been performing as a drag artist for close to a decade, and said he never imagined there would still be so much discrimination and controversy surrounding drag performers.

A crowd of people standing and looking at someone speaking, not in the frame.
Renderings of the future monument are seen behind people listening to speeches during the ceremony marking the start of its construction. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

“Now, my events get protested. I deal with incredible hate speech,” he said.

For him, this monument is a reminder of all the progress that’s been made so far by advocates in the 2SLGBTQ+ community, and the work that still needs to be done.

“This attack on the freedom of gender expression … we will not stand for that.”

It’s also about celebrating the resilience of the survivors of the LGBT purge, Cinder said, and a gift to the future 2SLGBTQ+ community.

A man wearing a rainbow suit and a decorative cloud on his head.
The monument’s design will include a stage space for performers like drag artists. Drag king Cyril Cinder says he sees the monument as a celebration of the queer community. (Safiyah Marhnouj/CBC)

“We are here, we have always been here, we will continue to be here,” he added.

The design of the monument centres around a sculpture shaped similar to a thunderhead cloud, meant to “embody the strength, activism and hope” of 2SLGBTQ+ communities.

The $13 million project is paid for by the LGBT Purge Fund and is expected to be unveiled in the summer of 2025.


Safiyah Marhnouj


Safiyah Marhnouj is a reporter with CBC P.E.I. She is a 2022 Joan Donaldson scholar and recently graduated from Carleton University’s journalism program. You can reach her at

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