PETITION: Preserve Thornton Park's Dedication to Women's Rights

June 19, 2013

Petition to keep Thornton Park Dedicated to Women’s Rights

We, the Women’s Monument Committee, are calling for public support on behalf of Marker of Change.

Marker of Change is a 300 foot circle consisting of 14 pink granite benches, each one engraved with the name of a woman assassinated in the 1989 Montreal Massacre. It is dedicated to all women murdered – with the dedication written in seven languages, on alternate benches. Since the unveiling on December 6th, 1997, Marker of Change has
been the sole monument in Thornton Park, Vancouver, BC.

We appeal to the Vancouver Park Board to reconsider its recent decision to place an unrelated monument in close proximity to Marker of Change in Thornton Park - the proposed Ireland Canada Monument (ICM) - which will name and celebrate Irish settlers.

The ICM is proposed to be sited 100 feet from Marker of Change, which, in the context and scale of Thornton Park, is far too close. We feel strongly that it is in the interest of both monuments that the new monument not be sited in Thornton Park. An alternative, more suitable site could be identified for the ICM.

Marker of Change, and the devastating reality of violence against women that it reflects, requires space and respect to continue to act as a catalyst for change.

Exclusion from the Parks Board Process

The Women’s Monument Committee, artist Beth Alber, and sponsor Capilano College were not properly consulted regarding the selection of Thornton Park as a site for the Ireland Canada Monument. As key stakeholders, we object to this oversight. The Parks Board did not follow its own Review Guidelines for the Donation of Public Art or Memorials, which require our inclusion in the process.

A national jury selected Marker of Change, a conceptual artwork designed by Beth Alber. This design was accepted by the Public Art Committee and Vancouver Parks Board of that time period, the early 1990’s.

Why locate the Ireland Canada Monument in Thornton Park?

We question the Parks Board’s reasoning that Irish immigrants arrived by train as justification for using Thornton Park as a location for the Ireland Canada Monument. Historically, many British Isles and European settlers came to Canada by boat, then to BC by train. Doesn’t this rationale lead to a collection of monuments crowding this little park? Furthermore, at the time of the major influx of Irish immigrants to the area, the train station did not even exist in this location.

Marker of Change represents values contrary to the Ireland Canada Monument

Marker of Change is a horizontal, low-to-the-ground, anti-monumental artwork that was intentionally designed as an invitational space specifically excluding a point of domination, and explicitly about rejecting male violence against women.

In contrast, the Ireland Canada Monument design has a central upright focal point six feet high. This focal point is proposed to include a Celtic cross embedded in its top area, which would thus introduce religious and patriarchal aspects to the memorial gestures in the Park. These can easily be read as exclusionary, and in direct contradiction to the design features of Marker of Change, which instead focused closely on details to address multiple constituencies respectfully and equally.

Living monuments require space and context

Monuments need space around them; that is a central visual power of monuments. A living monument which addresses a war against women that is far from over needs ample space in order to continue to be a meaningful place for grief, protest and other political action in response to violence against women. The need for such spaces is increasing. Witness in Canada the ongoing public outcry concerning the many missing and murdered indigenous women; and internationally the massive public protests against the rape and murder of women and girls.

Appeal to the Vancouver Park Board

The efforts of many people brought into being an inspiring, poetic women’s monument that is sustained by local, national, and international attention. Marker of Change embodies a form that champions women’s rights during a time of horrific violence against women, and, at the same time, is consciously inclusive of people throughout the world with a dedication carved into the benches in seven different languages.

The Women’s Monument requires space and respect to continue to act as a catalyst for change. Please sign this petition asking the Park Board to reconsider their decision.

Sincerely,

The Women’s Monument Committee

Vancouver, BC, Canada

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