Thank you to all who were able to join us on June 15, 2022
at the Homeless Memorial Plaza
HOMELESS MEMORIAL – HISTORY & BACKGROUND
The most serious and devastating result of our government's failures to implement the right to adequate housing is the premature deaths of at least 1255 individuals since 2005 in Edmonton.
Since 2006* the Homeless Memorial Service has become an annual event hosted by ECOHH to grieve and remember our loved ones who died during the previous year from the direct or indirect result of not having access to an adequate home.
*With the exception of pausing ECOHH's annual memorial in 2020 & 2021 on account of COVID-19
Building on the importance and significance of the annual homeless memorial, ECOHH commissioned the Homeless Memorial sculpture in part to remind Edmontonians of the tragic cost of homelessness in our community all year round.
Installed and dedicated in November 2011, the Homeless Memorial sculpture is located in an area now known as the Homeless Memorial Plaza on 103A Avenue, immediately north of City Hall, between 99 and 100 Streets (directions / map).
The Homeless Memorial sculpture was created by local sculptors Keith Turnbull and Ritchie Velthius who collaborated with steel fabricator Mike Turnbull and 22 community artists who constructed tiles based on experiences of home and homelessness. The artists worked at tables on the main floor of City Hall over several weeks and Turnbull remembers, “It was a powerful experience to work with the artists and hear their stories and passions as they created their tiles” (Edmonton Public Art Collection).
Designed using cement, ceramic and steel, the completed sculpture features a person dealing with homelessness molded from clay sitting in the middle of a 9 foot tall doorway with 48 tiles mounted around its edges – collectively representing why having a home is important. Each tile artist received an honorarium and had at least one tile included in the sculpture. Of all of the additional tiles, some were saved for repair and some have been gifted and presented to honorary lifetime membership recipients (one awarded annually during ECOHH's Annual General Meetings in June).
The $40 000 cost of the sculpture was mostly paid through a grant from Edmonton Arts Council's Community Public Arts program, and additional costs were covered by ECOHH and other supporters of the project. Following installation, ECOHH gifted the sculpture to the City.
More than four walls and a roof decent, affordable and adequate housing is essential for everyone and includes supports, community, and having a home. When everyone has a home, we have stronger healthier communities and we have the resources to make sure this is true in Edmonton. ECOHH hopes for this dramatic work of art to continue to contribute to growing understanding, awareness and commitment to realize the right to adequate housing. Until then, the Homeless Memorial sculpture continues to be a powerful reminder to all Edmontonians that we can and must work together to achieve access to adequate housing by all in our city.
- 2012 article by P. Kirman
HOMELESS MEMORIAL PLAZA
In April 2016 ECOHH's Homeless Memorial Committee recommended that ECOHH look at getting the park named where the Homeless Memorial Sculpture sits. At that time there was a lot of development in the immediate area (i.e. Completion of Rogers Arena, City of Edmonton Tower, Royal Alberta Museum), and ECOHH wanted to ensure the permanence of the Homeless Memorial Sculpture as a reminder of the urgency of our housing crisis. And that this message not be lost amongst all of the changes and impacts of development in the area.
Over the next few months ECOHH asked for suggestions from its membership as well as from community members with living and lived experience. Through a process of narrowing down the suggested ideas, the name "Homeless Memorial Park" was selected and nominated by ECOHH's board in a submission to the City of Edmonton's Naming Committee. As the space was designated as a plaza, the name ECOHH initially nominated was amended to "Homeless Memorial Plaza." ECOHH was ultimately successful in this application and our then-president Susan Watson was able to officially announce the naming of the space that includes the Memorial Sculpture as the "Homeless Memorial Plaza" on National Housing Day, November 22, 2016.
ANNUAL HOMELESS MEMORIAL (2022)
On June 15, 2022, we gathered at the Homeless Memorial Plaza
(directions / map). to honor and remember the 99 individuals in 2019, 132 individuals in 2020 & 222 individuals in 2021 who were our friends, relatives, neighbors, community members and loved ones who needlessly died from not having access to an adequate home.
Thank you to Paula Kirman who kindly shared a video of the memorial
as well as this photo album.
For more details on the 2022 memorial, please check out our blog. as well as our press release (which includes historical details).