Designed as a sanctuary to remember the fallen, the government announced the chosen concept for the National Monument to Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan Monday.
The winning design was created by Canadian artist and former Canadian Military Forces (CAF) member Adrian Stimson and his team, including MBTW Group, landscape architects, and LeuWebb Projects, Public Art Coordinators.
The design draws inspiration from the Medicine Wheel to bring an aura of healing and “takes the form of circular, sacred space of safety, a ‘home base’ of reflection, memory and contemplation,” states the Stimson Team.
Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, and Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development, announced the project winner from Ottawa.
“The National Monument to Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan will forever pay tribute to the courageous Canadians who served in Afghanistan. Canadians will always remember those who served, their families and those who died during this very important chapter of our military and diplomatic history. Team Stimson’s design captures the intellectual, emotional, spiritual and physical aspects of war, from both Canadian and Afghan perspectives,” said MacAulay.
Remembering the Fallen
Once completed, the monument will sit across the street from the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. According to Veterans Affairs Canada, “It will recognize the commitment and sacrifice of Canadians who served in Afghanistan and the support provided to them by Canadians at home.”
The monument will be made of four portals and consists of an interior area as the sanctuary where the fallen are remembered. Three walls will proudly display the year, names of the fallen, and maple leaves. The remaining quadrant wall will face the direction of Afghanistan and is dedicated to fallen Afghan Allies.
VAC outlined that in the centre, “four bronze flak jackets stand draped on crosses—utilitarian yet poignant reminders of protection.”
“This monument will forever pay tribute to Canada’s remarkable contributions and sacrifices in Afghanistan. Canadian soldiers played a prime role in the mission, helping to rebuild Afghanistan in many ways. This monument stands as a testament to the bravery and commitment of the men and women who served, and one cannot ever forget having been a part of that effort. The destiny of Afghanistan was never ours to choose but we can hold our heads up high for what we did for the Afghan people while we were there,” said Sajjan.
A Decision Made for Veterans by Veterans
The Stimson Team design was chosen through the help of stakeholders and Veterans, families, and others who served on the mission and serving Canadian Armed Forces members. In total, more than 10,000 Canadians shared their input on the five finalists. According to VAC, Team Stimson’s design received between 52 per cent and 62 per cent of support across all questions regarding the finalists.
Stimson, himself, was a member of the CAF as part of the Katimavik Military. The initiative offered people the opportunity to spend three months at a time at an Army or Navy base. Stimson served at CFB Esquimalt.
Stinson has visited Afghanistan and tried to capture the Canadian experience in Afghanistan through his art over the years. He is also a member Siksika (Blackfoot) First Nation in southern Alberta.
Over the coming months, a detailed development of the selected design will be followed by construction.
Canada in Afghanistan
Following the terrorist attack in the United States in 2001, Canada pledged its contribution to the global fight against terrorism. From 2001 to 2014, more than 40,000 CAF members served in Afghanistan, and 158 Canadian soldiers lost their lives.
The Afghan conflict is known to be Canada’s most involved, complex and deadliest operation since the Korean War.