Ottawa, ON
Marion Dewar Plaza Ottawa HIV/AIDS Memorial since 1 December 2017
AIDS Committee of Ottawa unveils memorial design
Monument that will honor those who have died from AIDS was inspired by designer Gustavo Hannecke's own life experiences. The tiles along the wall are meant to represent people who have died from AIDS or are still living with the disease.
If organizers can find the funding they hope to have a permanent memorial to those who lost their battle with AIDS and everyone still fighting by next summer. The AIDS committee of Ottawa have received council’s support for building a memorial at City Hall and revealed the winning artist and design last week.
Gustavo Hannecke , who has been living with AIDS for more than two decades, said he felt inspired to be a part of the project. “I am HIV positive, so it’s very personal to me,” he said. Hannecke said having a memorial will show the community they are cared for and loved. “It’s a very strong statement. We live with a stigma, people are not able to say they are HIV positive, because of the stigma we live with,” he said. “It’s a way to fight the stigma.
Hannecke’s design is a curved wall that will go from flat along the ground to vertical and be covered in small tiles. “Each tile represents a person living with HIV or someone who has died from AIDS in Ottawa,” he said. In addition, the wall will have a large red ribbon made out of tiles. “The red ribbon represents the support system we have within society,” he said.
Khaled Salam, executive director of the AIDS Committee of Ottawa, said the memorial is something many other cities have and it was time to bring one to Ottawa. “It’s meant to be a sanctuary , a place of healing, a place where people can come together,” he said. He said the memorial will be a place to remember those who died from the disease but will also do more than that. “It also honours those who are still living with HIV and fighting," he said.
The committee’s goal is to address the remaining details with the city soon and then start fundraising for the cost of the installation. Salam said they hope to have the memorial in place for the 150th celebrations this summer, because the history of AIDS is an important part of the city’s history as well.
Photo © Gustavo Hannecke Toronto Metro

5 December 2016
Ryan Tumilty, Ottawa