This year marks the 200th anniversary of the start of the War of 1812, during which the United States fought British and aboriginal forces in a conflict that helped define Canada as a nation.
First Nations played a major role in this war, helping the British win numerous battles. One of the most pivotal of these was the Battle of Queenston Heights, on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, in which the Six Nations and Native Allies helped the British trounce the Americans.
Now a plan is afoot for a major memorial commemorating their participation, and the committee putting it all together is calling for design proposals, offering artists “a remarkable opportunity to bring the significance of a largely forgotten history to life,” according to a press release.
“The Battle of Queenston Heights is a defining moment in Canada’s emergence as a nation,” the planning committee release said. “Fought as a result of an attempted invasion by American Forces on October 13, 1812, the defending British Army and Canadian Militia were aided by Six Nations and several other First Nations peoples who played a critical role in the shared victory.”
Memorial Working Group co-chairmen Richard Merritt and Tim Johnson have issued a call to artists “to create a memorial that will commemorate the sacrifice and valor of Six Nations and Native Allies who fought in the Battle of Queenston Heights, recognize the cultural, diplomatic, and military contributions of Six Nations and Native Allies in their role as essential participants in the Battle of Queenston Heights, and reawaken the spirit of solidarity among friends and allies who once forged history together,” the group said in the release.
Submissions will be evaluated on artistic merit, content merit, adherence to design criteria, sustainability as a permanent outdoor public art installation, and public appeal.
Design guidelines for architecture and aesthetics, visitor experience and interpretive value, the use of symbolism, and integration with the surrounding environment will also be assessed. Those answering the request for proposals must keep in mind that the selection committee will follow very strict, specific guidelines, since the memorial must resonate for generations to come.
A bevy of volunteers serves on the organizing committee. They represent various heritage organizations in Niagara-On-The-Lake, members of the Native community and citizens from various business and civic sectors, the press release said. Parks Canada and the Niagara Parks Commission have also provided “essential participation,” the organizers said, with financial support from Ontario Power Generation providing much-needed assistance as well.