DND scouts Nortel site for Kandahar cenotaph
Concerns raised that Carling campus won’t be accessible enough for public
The former Nortel campus on Carling Avenue is being considered as a potential new home for the cenotaph built at Kandahar Airfield to honour Canada’s war dead from the Afghan mission.
The cenotaph is being dismantled and will be transported to Canada by the end of this month. The 189 plaques on the memorial will be brought home separately, accompanied by a military escort.
Military officers have already considered sites at Dow’s Lake, the Beechwood Cemetery and the Canadian War Museum as locations for the reconstructed cenotaph, but decided against them.
Defence Minister Peter Mackay said the Defence Department is now in discussions with the National Capital Commission to identify an appropriate site for the cenotaph. It would be “one that will provide a place for reflection and remembrance for the public, affected families, and the Canadian Forces,” Mackay said in a statement.
Among the sites that would be under consideration is the former Nortel campus, which will be the new home for the majority of Defence Department employees and Canadian Forces members working in Ottawa and Gatineau.
There have been discussions about locating the ceno-
‘(The monument) has served as a powerful symbol of sacrifice.’
GEN. WALTER NATYNCZYK,
Chief of the Defence Staff
taph possibly inside the complex, although an outdoor location could also be considered. There are, however, concerns that the Nortel site is too far outside Ottawa’s downtown core and would not allow for easy accessibility for the public.
The military wants to announce the location of the site next year, with a finished cenotaph unveiled by the end of 2014, the year the current training mission of Afghan national security forces is to end.
The cenotaph at Kandahar Airfield became a symbol for many Canadians of the losses endured in the Afghan war. Canadian Forces personnel and Afghan employees built it in 2006 and added to the monument over time.
On the cenotaph are 149 plaques that honour Canadian Forces members who died, as well as Foreign Affairs official Glyn Berry, Calgary Herald journalist Michelle Lang, and Marc Cyr, a civilian from the company SNC Lavalin that was under contract to the Defence Department.
Another 40 plaques honour the 39 U.S. military and one civilian member who died while serving under Canadian command. A plaque is also to be added for Master Cpl. Byron Greff, the most recent Canadian fatality in the Afghan war. He was killed in Kabul by a suicide bomber.
“It has served as a powerful symbol of sacrifice,” Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk says of the cenotaph.
Although DND has ruled out Beechwood Cemetery, Dow’s Lake and the Canadian War Museum as possible sites, the NCC could suggest any of those as a potential location, though that is seen as unlikely, officials close to the project say.
The military is not keen on Beechwood, as a cemetery is not seen as a proper place for such a monument. The war museum was passed over because the public has to pay to get into the facility. Public accessibility is seen as key for any location.
Upon its arrival in Canada, the dismantled cenotaph will be put into temporary storage.
The military has the original drawings for the cenotaph as well as photos and video to help in reconstructing the monument in Canada. There is the possibility that some materials will have to be replaced so they can withstand Canadian temperatures.
There are also discussions now under way about taking the plaques to various locations, such as military bases and other interested communities, so the public can see them. Still to be determined is how those plaques would be displayed.
A decision is expected to be made before Christmas, with the view to having the plaques going to various communities in the new year.
Another cenotaph in honour of those killed in Afghanistan was erected at Camp Mirage, the Canadian base in the United Arab Emirates. It was brought back to Canada and this summer was installed at the National Air Force Museum at Canadian Forces Base Trenton, Ont. It consists of a pyramid-like cairn, two walls and a plaque. There is also a raised Canadian flag.
Sgt.-maj. Al Boucher pauses at the cenotaph on Kandahar Airfield in this 2008 photo. The monument holds 149 plaques honouring Canadians killed during the mission in Afghanistan, and 40 plaques honouring Americans who died while serving under Canadian...