Ottawa, ON
Marion Dewar Plaza Ottawa HIV/AIDS Memorial since 1 December 2017
Volunteers begin planning an Ottawa AIDS memorial
First order of business? Location, location, location
A memorial in Centretown will honour those lost and affected by HIV/AIDS, says Glenn Crawford. Ten people are on the AIDS Memorial committee, with representatives from the community and AIDS service organizations.
Crawford says the memorial will be a place of serenity, beauty, reflection and compassion, a place to remember the community’s losses and celebrate its living and acknowledge that the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis was also a time of courage, growth and community strength. “I am very proud that we have been able to gather interest and support from many key leaders in the HIV/AIDS movement in Ottawa. The Village would not have moved forward with the memorial project had we not had the direction and support from these people, because it’s important to know this is something the community wants and will believe in, and to have the knowledge and experience of these people, many of whom were activists at the beginning of the epidemic,” says Crawford.
Crawford says a major challenge for the memorial project will be creating a budget. But before determining building and maintenance costs, he says, more planning needs to be done on how it will be built and where it will be. The committee discussed a few locations, including Minto Park; Bank St, between Laurier and Slater (in the paved open area); the sidewalk in front of the CUPW building at the corner of Bank and Lewis streets; and the vacant lot at the corner of Bank and Florence streets.
The Bank and Florence location, an unattractive space with cinderblocks and graffiti, has been a vacant lot for six years since a fire burned down the heritage mixed commercial and residential property that stood there. In 2006 owner Ali Asgari, who also owns Galaxy Camera, submitted plans to build a new Galaxy Camera on the site. Plans were eventually approved but nothing has been done yet. Crawford says the committee has not yet approached Asgari with its ideas, but this lot would be an ideal location.
As for what the memorial might look like, the committee has had ranging discussion. The final version could include some combination of an arch, a path, a garden, a sculpture or even a mural.
Crawford says the committee is gathering the names of local people who died from AIDS. “[Gathering names] will be a massive amount of work that will no doubt be incomplete even as we complete the memorial,” he says.
The National Capital Village AIDS Memorial Committee has already discussed a number of fundraising opportunities, including government grants, corporate fundraising, donation pages, living wills and seeking out funds through the annual AIDS Walk for Life.
Photo (c) Neil McKinnon Dailyxtra

27 March 2011
Neil McKinnon, Ottawa