DND scouts Nor­tel site for Kan­da­har ceno­taph

Con­cerns raised that Car­ling cam­pus won’t be ac­ces­si­ble enough for pub­lic

Ottawa Citizen - - FRONT PAGE - DAVID PUGLIESE

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.

MIKE CARROCCETTO, THE OT­TAWA CIT­I­ZEN

GRA­HAM THOM­SON, POSTMEDIA NEWS

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...

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