Mark Clairmont | MuskokaTODAY.com
ORILLIA — Survivors and supporters of the Huronia Regional Centre are excited and relieved that a new monument to their memory will be unveiled and dedicated Saturday at the cemetery across the street.
Marilyn Dolmage, who has been one of its champions, says the “unveiling of an astoundingly beautiful and poignant memorial at the HRC cemetery, designed by survivors, will take place Aug. 24 at 2 p.m.
The dedication will take place at Huronia Regional Centre Cemetery, 777 Memorial Avenue, Orillia
She said that on Tuesday, “an amazing work of metal sculpture by Hilary Clark Cole” was being installed.
“Hilary’s beautiful welded steel tree.”
She created a large “breathtaking work of art for the ages – mystically representing (survivors’) struggles, growth and freedom,” said Dolmage.
Funding was obtained from the Huronia Regional Centre class action settlement.
Other settlement-funded “Investing in Justice” projects will take part.
Dolmage says it will be “a day for celebration.”
People who once lived at Huronia Regional Centre chose the followig word that were engraved on the “Survivors Memorial Monument:”
BOTH to honour those who died there
AND to celebrate their own survival and freedom
“Injustice” “We were abused” “Slave labour”
“Locked away and forgotten”
“We will be heard” “Never give up” “Believe our stories”
“I have a name not a number”
“Never again” “Trust” “Power” “Forget Me Not”
“I have a life now”
The sculpture was designed in collaboration with survivors, Cole, and Signature Memorials.
The HRC Cemetery is a place of historic injustice – where the government buried people without proper funerals. Hundreds of burials have only numbers, no names. Hundreds more have no markers at all. Many markers were removed and repurposed on the grounds, and were never put back properly. A sewage system was installed through the burial area.
Recently, a cemetery “facelift” furthered the government cover-up at this institution. The arch they installed is without ornamentation. New markers carry misleading and inaccurate information. The government backed down on its promise to replace hundreds of numbered stones with individual markers showing people’s names and their dates of birth and death.
In 2013, the premier of Ontario apologized for the harm done by HRC and other similar institutions. Both opposition party leaders apologized as well.
Historic event will be documented:
BARRI COHEN is an award-winning Toronto documentary filmmaker and sister to two former Huronia residents, who lived – and died – at Huronia. She has been working on a documentary about Huronia since 2014, when she first met with survivors and their supporters, and sought to tell their stories. This summer, Cohen got the support of the Documentary Channel to fund the film. Remember Every Name’s work to obtain proper recognition and memorialization of the lives lived and lost at Huronia has been a key story element to the documentary.