AIDS Memorial History

  • Summer and Fall 1994 - Dr. Joss de Wet, then medical director of Normandy AIDS hospice, was struck by the cumulative deaths, not only at the hospice, but in the affected community at large. There arose out of this sorrow a need to remember, an idea for a Memorial, so that that one that had died of this disease should never be forgotten. Dr. De Wet and Ed Lee, chairman of AIDS Vancouver met to discuss a Memorial project, and Mr. Lee took the concept to the board of AIDS Vancouver and championed the cause at this respected community organization.
  • Aug 22 & Sep 13 1995 - public meetings are held at Pacific AIDS Resource Centre (PARC) to assess public interest in the creation of a Memorial in Vancouver. Public interest is very high.
  • Jan 1996 - a public art competition is announced, open to artists and others of the design community residing in BC, calling for a design and appropriate site.
  • Apr 15 1996 - submission deadline for proposals, 74 received.
  • Apr 23 1996 - first round judging complete.
  • May 9 1996 – 4 first round finalists announced.
  • July 20 1996 - final round judging complete, winner announced - a Corten® steel diaphanous ribbon in Ceperley Park .
  • Oct 23 1996 the AIDS Memorial committee requests permission from the Vancouver Park Board to install a public monument to the memory of those who have died from AIDS in Ceperley Park.
  • Nov 4 1996 - Vancouver Park Board approves Ceperley Park as an appropriate site as proposed by the winning design team and endorses the building of the monument.
  • Nov 5-30 1996 - there is significant public and media debate to the choice of Stanley Park as the site for the AIDS Memorial and of the lack of public input into the process. Media attention, at times heated, includes a BCTV poll suggesting a majority is against the Stanley Park site and numerous rebuttals, articles, editorials and letters to the editor are published.
  • Nov 8 1996 - Vancouver Park Board appropriately withdraws approval as a result of public concerns with site selected, reaffirms its continued and unequivocal support for the project, and commits the project to an expanded formal public process. The Vancouver Park Board advises the committee to seek a limited number of alternate sites for subsequent consideration.
  • Mar 1997 - Vancouver Park Board completes the development of a generic formal process for the review of submissions for donated public art. The Vancouver AIDS Memorial Society begins to respond to the requirements of this new comprehensive process.
  • Mar-Oct 1997 - the Vancouver AIDS Memorial Society meets with concerned parties from the community at large to determine a list of 4 final candidate sites.
  • Oct 10 1997 - the Vancouver AIDS Memorial Society meets with members of the AIDS Candlelight Vigil event to ensure consensus on site selection process and list of final sites.
  • Dec 1 1997 - the Vancouver AIDS Memorial Society submits 4 sites to the Vancouver Park Board for consideration. These include: Ceperley Park, Sunset Beach west, foot of Nelson Street, and Alexandra Park. Park Board staff are charged with undertaking a technical review of the sites considering scale, views, programmatic use of the park, heritage, impact on horticulture, accessibility, grounds maintenance impact, ground suitability etc.
  • Feb 1998 - Alexandra park eliminated as a site by Park Board staff for technical reasons.
  • Feb 1998 - the 3 remaining sites were posted with signs indicating the proposal to situate the Memorial in each location and advising of a public meeting to hear comments.
  • Feb 26 1998 - Park Board staff holds a public meeting at the Roundhouse. Approximately 70 people attend and 35 speakers are heard.
  • Mar 24 1998 - a 5-person panel representing the arts, landscape architecture, and the broader community is convened and meets to "assess the results of the technical review and the public consultation and to answer additional questions on design and social issues."
  • Mar 98 - the panel had the options of recommending any site or no site or of recommending one of the sites with some qualifiers. The committee decided to recommend the Sunset Beach location with qualifiers of drainage, landscaping and safety requirements for the final design.
  • Apr 15 1998 - Park Board staff complete their assessment of the 4 submitted sites and recommend Sunset Beach west as the preferred site.
  • May 1998 - the Vancouver AIDS Memorial Society affirms the Park Board staff recommendation that Sunset Beach west is an excellent site for the Memorial.
  • Jun 15 1998 - a public meeting is held at the West End Community Centre by Park Board staff to hear comments on the new proposed site at Sunset Beach west.
  • Jun 22 1998 - the Vancouver Park Board unanimously approves Sunset Beach west, near the foot of Broughton Street, as the new site for the AIDS Memorial. Approved with the site is a plaque stating: "this Memorial was approved for placement in this park as a place of healing and education within a tolerant and compassionate city."
  • Feb-Mar 2001 - the Vancouver AIDS Memorial Society begins its fundraising drive.
  • Jun 14 2001 - the Vancouver AIDS Memorial Society holds its official launch to unveil the Memorial's design to community supporters, donors and partners at the Buschlen-Mowatt Gallery in Vancouver.
  • Nov 29 2001 - the nomination period for names to the Memorial opens. An awareness campaign called "Unforgettable" is launched jointly with AIDS Vancouver. Tied to events that mark December 1, world AIDS day, the campaign focuses on AIDS Vancouver’s distribution of red ribbons, the universal symbol of AIDS remembrance. The campaign includes posters, brochures distributed throughout stores in the lower mainland, TV, radio and magazine spots, and a joint mail out from more than a dozen BC-based AIDS organizations to 20,000 British Columbians.
  • Jan 14 2002 - the Vancouver Park Board updates their support plaque to the following: "this Memorial is located in this park as a place of healing and education within a compassionate and understanding city."
  • May 15 2002 - official groundbreaking for the AIDS Memorial, held onsite at Sunset Beach at the foot of Broughton Street.
  • Aug 4 2002 - mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, partners and friends joined hands and hearts under the Vancouver AIDS Memorial banner to proudly march in the Gay Pride parade. While over 120,000 spectators looked on, a 60-foot ribbon replica of the Memorial design wound its way down Denman Street, onto Pacific Boulevard and Beach Avenue, coming to rest at the actual Memorial site. The site was also part of the festival of activities and Pride participants had the opportunity to reflect for a moment on lost loved ones while they enjoyed the panorama of the Memorial's park setting overlooking English Bay
  • Oct 2002 - 704 names were submitted to the architect who designed the Memorial. Another 80 were added during the layout process prior to fabrication. The names are to be cut through the 60 foot steel representation of a flowing ribbon using a high-pressure water process. Every name tells a story. 29 additional names will be added to the Memorial once the Society receives enough nominations to fill the remaining 2 panels.
  • Jan 2003 - "Why couldn't we have just left a little sooner? We rushed to the hospital. Only to see him lying there lifeless with his eyes still opened. It haunts me to picture him with his eyes opened. I wanted him to look as though he was asleep, they could've closed his eyes." These words from a grieving sister accompanied the nomination of her beloved brother. We have been so moved by the letter and pictures sent with AIDS Memorial nominations that we want to share what we can with others. Once the Memorial's installation has been completed, the Society will work to create a tribute to our nominees as individuals by exploring who they were and the impact they made on this world. As well as being a message of love, it will also be a powerful educational tool and as that is a part of the mission of the Memorial we will ensure that it is developed appropriately.
  • May 10 2004 - After 10 years of non-stop faith and commitment to honoring the thousands of British Columbia residents who have died from illnesses related to the AIDS virus, the dream of so many volunteers, sponsors and community members will be completed as the six-week landscaping and installation process begins.
 

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