A plan for a massive monument in Cape Breton to honour Canada’s fallen soldiers is spurring an equally massive debate across the country.
Proposed by a group called the Never Forgotten National Memorial Foundation, the controversial “Mother Canada” statue would be erected in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park at Green Cove.
The statue would be 24-meters tall, portraying a mourning woman with her arms outreached towards Europe, where many Canadian soldiers perished in WWI and WWII. The plan has already been approved by Parks Canada, who has reportedly donated $100,000 to the cause.
But former Parks Canada managers think the national park is an inappropriate location for the statue.
In an open letter to the federal environment minister Leona Aglukkaq, 28 former senior Parks Canada mangers wrote that war memorial goes against the ecological mandate of the park.
“Any proposed developments in a national park must be for the purpose of enhancing ecological integrity of the Park and not for the sake of the development,” the letter reads. “It is clear that the proposed ‘Mother Canada’ statue for Cape Breton Highlands National Park will not enhance ecological integrity.”
The letter states that the signees are not, however, opposed to the statue in another location.
“In Nova Scotia, there is no shortage of sites that can accommodate such a project. Green Cove is not one of them.”
Along with the statue, the memorial would include an interpretive centre, restaurant, souvenir shop, and parking for 300 vehicles.
Never Forgotten, who hope to raise 25-million through private fundraising and donations, has already garnered support from the federal government.
“We present this country’s many stories – natural, cultural and historical – sharing these incredible stories and telling visitors and Canadians about special moments in your history,” said Parks Canada official Kelly Deveaux to the Globe and Mail. “This memorial will tell an important story.”
Other high profile Tories, like Peter MacKay, are also throwing their support behind Mother Canada.
“This memorial is a wonderful initiative that will give Canadians a steadfast symbol here in our country, to honour the unsurpassed bravery in the name of freedom and liberty, that Canadian soldiers displayed,” says a statement attributed to MacKay on Never Forgotten’s website.
Additionally, some locals also support the project in the hopes that it will bolster tourism in the area.
If all goes to plan, the statue will be completed by July 1, 2017, to commemorate Canada’s 150th birthday.