Findings from the Consultations with Veterans, Families and Other Stakeholders on Design Considerations for the National Monument to Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan

Conducted on Behalf of Veterans Affairs Canada

Final Report March 31, 2020

Consultations Undertaken and Report Prepared by PubliVate and Delaney + Associates.

1. Executive Summary

Background

Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) is working with Canadian Heritage (PCH) and the National Capital Commission (NCC) to create the National Monument to Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan (herein referred to as “the Monument”). VAC wanted to gather feedback from stakeholders, including the Canadian public, on design considerations for the Monument. The three key components of the Monument’s design that were part of the consultation were monument objectives, visitor experience and form and character.

To that end, a two-phase engagement was designed and undertaken. The first phase was an online consultation hosted by PubliVate in January 2020. This consultation resulted in 4,056 responses from across the country with significant participation from key stakeholder groups (e.g., Veterans and family members). The second phase consisted of two in-person consultation meetings held in February 2020 and facilitated by Delaney + Associates. At the first meeting, the 13 participants represented the VAC Ministerial Commemoration Advisory Group as well as representatives from organizations that took part in the whole-of-government mission, while the 12 participants in the second meeting represented the Algonquin of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation and the Algonquin of Kitigan Zibi Anishinaabeg First Nation.

Key Findings – Online phase

  • Among the monument objectives, feedback showed that the vast majority of respondents found expressing Canada’s deep gratitude for the sacrifices made by Canadians who served in Afghanistan, including those Canadian Armed Forces members and civilians who lost their lives or were injured—physically and psychologically—in Canada’s mission in Afghanistan the most important objective.
  • Ranked a distant second was encouraging understanding of the significance and scope of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan, with serving as a public space for individual reflection and collective remembrance coming in a close third. Recognizing the strong support offered by families, friends and communities at home during the mission was ranked fourth and acknowledging the efforts of Canadians in standing together with the Afghan people came in fifth.
  • For the desired visitor experience of the Monument, feedback received showed that there was no clear consensus on this question, with the first and second ranked options being a virtual tie. These were for the Monument to serve as a place for personal reflection and contemplation and as an educational tool that inspires visitors of all ages to learn more about the Mission. Ranked third was a gathering space for a commemorative event or ceremony.
  • For the Monument’s form and character, all three options ranked quite close. Ultimately, the preference was for the Monument to be an ensemble of components that encourages movement through the monument site. The second-ranked option was for it to be an impressive monument set in an open space while a human-scale monument set in a more intimate environment ranked third.
  • Comments reflected the idea that “sacrifice” should be a focus of the Monument. This included sacrifices made by those serving in Afghanistan, as well as sacrifices made by family members and others who stayed home. Sacrifice included death, physical and mental injury. There was also a call for the Monument to honour all those who served in Afghanistan, including non-CAF members.

Key Findings – In-person phase

  • Overall, what was heard in the in-person meetings closely reflected the findings from the online phase. There was a high level of agreement that expressing Canada’s deep gratitude for the sacrifices made by Canadians who served in Afghanistan should be the most important objective of the Monument.
  • Many participants at the in-person meeting with the VAC Ministerial Commemoration Advisory Group and representatives from organizations that took part in the whole-of-government mission, expressed that the educational element should receive emphasis for a number of reasons, including that this would ensure a broad appeal to a larger audience, and longevity of the Monument’s relevance into the future.
  • It was said in the meetings that the idea of an ensemble of components would fit best with the educational element. Moreover, there was a sense that the three different approaches to form and character did not have to be mutually exclusive.

2. Background

Canada joined the United Nations-mandated mission in Afghanistan in October 2001 and continued to support the multinational military efforts there until March 2014. More than 40,000 Canadian women and men in uniform—as well as hundreds of civilians and government officials—served in Afghanistan. Many Canadians died as a result of their service in Afghanistan, including Canadian Armed Forces members, a diplomat, foreign aid workers, a government contractor and a journalist. Thousands of Canadian Armed Forces members were also injured—physically and psychologically—during the Mission.

VAC (sometimes referred to herein as “the Department”) is working with PCH and the NCC to create the National Monument to Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan in Ottawa. The Monument will recognize an important chapter in Canada’s history and pay tribute to the commitment and sacrifice of Canadians in helping to rebuild Afghanistan.

VAC plays a central role in Government with respect to the commemoration of all those who have served our country post-Confederation in the cause of peace and freedom. VAC’s mandate is, in part, to promote the recognition and remembrance of the achievements and sacrifices of those who served Canada in times of war, military conflict and peace. This commemorative mandate will be supported by the construction of an enduring monument to those Canadians who served in Canada’s whole-of-government mission in Afghanistan as well as to those Canadians who provided support at home. The Monument will complement VAC’s existing efforts to recognize those who have served on behalf of all Canadians.

3. About the Consultation

3.1. Overall Objectives

To help ensure that VAC effectively addresses the interests and preferences of Canadians for initiatives being undertaken by the Government of Canada, the Department supports consultations that are transparent and accessible. VAC wanted to consult and gather input on design considerations for the Monument from all Canadians, including those most impacted by the mission in Afghanistan (i.e., Veterans, families and other key stakeholders) as well as the general public and Indigenous groups. This will help to ensure that a broad spectrum of opinions and insights are captured, communicated and considered as the project moves forward. The findings of this consultation exercise have been provided to PCH, who will use the information to help inform the design competition process.

VAC sought feedback on three key components of the Monument’s design:

  1. Monument objectives
  2. Visitor experience
  3. Form and character

3.2. Consultation Questions

To that end, four questions were posed to consultation participants:

Question 1:

The goal of this initiative is to create an enduring monument in the Nation’s Capital to those Canadians who served in Canada’s whole-of-government mission in Afghanistan, as well as to those Canadians who provided support at home. There are several objectives identified in order to achieve this goal. Please rank the objectives you think are most important for the National Monument to Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan.

  1. Express Canada’s deep gratitude for the sacrifices made by Canadians who served in Afghanistan, including those Canadian Armed Forces members and civilians who lost their lives or were injured—physically and psychologically—in Canada’s mission in Afghanistan
  2. Recognize the strong support offered by families, friends and communities at home during the mission
  3. Acknowledge the efforts of Canadians in standing together with the Afghan people to help rebuild their country
  4. Serve as a public space for individual reflection and collective remembrance
  5. Encourage understanding of the significance and scope of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan

Question 2:

Various visitor experiences are considered when designing a new monument. These experiences guide design teams in their creative approach to how visitors will interact with the monument.

Please choose the visitor experiences you think are most important for the National Monument to Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan. Please rank your choices in order of importance.

  1. As a gathering space for a commemorative event or ceremony
  2. As a place for personal reflection and contemplation
  3. As an educational tool that inspires visitors of all ages to learn more about the Mission

Question 3:

The National Monument to Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan will be located on LeBreton Flats in Ottawa, the traditional territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe People. LeBreton Flats is located across the street from the Canadian War Museum. The site will provide easy access and high visibility to the Monument for both vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Design teams will aim to create a design that integrates the Monument into its surroundings and achieves the goal of this initiative. Please indicate your preferred approach for the form and character of the National Monument to Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan by ranking your choices in order of importance.

  1. An impressive monument set in an open space
  2. A human-scale monument set in a more intimate environment
  3. An ensemble of components that encourages movement through the monument site

Question 4:

An open-ended question soliciting further comments on the design guidelines for the National Monument to Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan.

3.3. Consultation Phases

This consultation consisted of two phases. The first phase, conducted in January 2020, was an online consultation. Links to the consultation, hosted by PubliVate, were posted on several websites, including VAC’s website, and the Consulting with Canadians website.

As this was an open consultation (i.e., everyone who was interested in participating was able to do so), findings are not representative of any larger group or population. No extrapolations should be made to conclude how “Canadians,” “Veterans,” or any other group feel about the consultation questions, or design considerations for the Monument.

VAC’s objective was to garner participation and feedback from a broad audience of key stakeholders and Canadians. Communications tactics included a news release, sustained social media strategy (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and targeted outreach to the following audiences:

  • Departments whose staff participated in the whole-of-government mission, including Global Affairs Canada and the RCMP;
  • VAC Ministerial Commemoration Advisory Group;
  • VAC Stakeholder Network;
  • Canadian Armed Forces members;
  • families of the fallen;
  • family members of Veterans of the Mission;
  • VAC employees;
  • Indigenous stakeholders, especially the Algonquin Anishinaabeg on whose traditional territory the Monument will be located; and
  • the 100,000 users of My VAC Account.

Following the online engagement, two in-person consultation meetings, facilitated by Delaney + Associates, were held in February 2020.

4. Online Consultation

4.1. Respondent Statistics and Site Analytics

The online consultation was open to the public from January 2-20, 2020 and resulted in 4,056 responses – 3,863 completed questionnaires and 193 partially completed questionnaires. To be considered complete, a participant had to press “submit” after answering one or more questions. An incomplete questionnaire was a questionnaire on which a participant answered at least one question but did not press “submit.” A further 929 questionnaires were started but not completed or submitted.

In addition to the four consultation questions, respondents were asked to identify where they live (in or outside of the National Capital Region; in which province or territory) and which of the following categories they most closely identify with:

  • An individual who served in Canada’s whole-of-government mission in Afghanistan (Canadian Armed Forces member, police officer, public servant or civilian)
  • A family member of an individual who served in Canada’s whole-of-government mission in Afghanistan (Canadian Armed Forces member, police officer, public servant or civilian)
  • A Veteran of Canada’s military
  • A current member of the Canadian Armed Forces
  • A member of the general public

The following demographic information reflects the responses from the 3,863 completed questionnaires.

4.1.1. Responses by Region

Participation spanned every province and territory across Canada. In total, 690 people responded that they live in the National Capital Region (NCR). When compared to the population of Canada, Quebec was underrepresented in the consultations while Ontario, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia were overrepresented.

Province/Territory # of responses % of completed % of responses - Canada only1 % of Canadian population
Alberta 433 11% 13% 11%
British Columbia 430 11% 13% 13%
Manitoba 143 4% 4% 4%
New Brunswick 194 5% 6% 2%
Newfoundland and Labrador 63 2% 2% 2%
Northwest Territories 11 < 1% < 1% < 1%
Nova Scotia 279 7% 9% 3%
Nunavut 25 1% 1% < 1%
Ontario (including NCR) 1,443 38% 44% 38%
Prince Edward Island 88 2% 3% < 1%
Quebec 91 2% 3% 24%
Saskatchewan 66 2% 2% 3%
Yukon 6 < 1% < 1% < 1%
Outside of Canada 25 1%
No answer 566 15%

1In order to compare the distribution of respondents across Canada with the Canadian population, the percentages were re-calculated removing those who indicated that they lived outside of Canada (1%) and those who did not provide an answer to this question (15%).

4.1.2. Responses by Self-Identified Group

The majority of respondents (72%) had a link to Canada’s military and/or the mission in Afghanistan. Individuals who served in Canada’s whole-of-government mission in Afghanistan made up the largest group of respondents:

Self-Identified Category # of responses % (completed / submitted)
An individual who served in Canada’s whole-of-government mission in Afghanistan 1,164 30%
A member of the general public 1,054 27%
A Veteran of Canada’s military 948 25%
A family member of an individual who served in Canada’s whole-of-government mission in Afghanistan 339 9%
A current member of the Canadian Armed Forces 295 8%
No answer 63 2%

5. In-person Consultation

During the in-person consultations, participants were first asked to complete the ranking exercise for each core consultation question individually. They then discussed these as a group, providing their own responses and explaining the reasons for their rankings (for ranked questions). After this, they were shown the results from the online consultation and were asked to provide their thoughts on the online findings.

The first consultation meeting was held on February 4, 2020 in Ottawa, Ontario, and lasted two hours. The 13 participants represented the VAC Ministerial Commemoration Advisory Group as well as representatives from organizations that took part in the whole-of-government mission.

The second consultation meeting was held in Kitigan Zibi, Quebec, on February 14, 2020 and also lasted two hours. The 12 participants represented the Algonquin of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation and the Algonquin of Kitigan Zibi Anishinaabe First Nation.

6. Key Findings

The key findings in this section are based on the completed (3,863) and partially completed (193) questionnaires received during the engagement period, as well as what was heard during the in-person consultations.

For the online findings, the answer “rank” is the average score of each option - each time an answer was ranked first, it was assigned a score of one, if ranked second, a score of two, and so forth. The rank is each of these scores added up and divided by the number of participants. Therefore, the lower the rank number, the higher it was scored overall by participants.

6.1. Monument Objectives

The first consultation question was related to the overall objectives for the Monument:

The goal of this initiative is to create an enduring monument in the Nation’s Capital to those Canadians who served in Canada’s whole-of-government mission in Afghanistan, as well as to those Canadians who provided support at home. There are several objectives identified in order to achieve this goal. Please rank the objectives you think are most important for the National Monument to Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan.

  1. Express Canada’s deep gratitude for the sacrifices made by Canadians who served in Afghanistan, including those Canadian Armed Forces members and civilians who lost their lives or were injured—physically and psychologically—in Canada’s mission in Afghanistan
  2. Recognize the strong support offered by families, friends and communities at home during the mission
  3. Acknowledge the efforts of Canadians in standing together with the Afghan people to help rebuild their country
  4. Serve as a public space for individual reflection and collective remembrance
  5. Encourage understanding of the significance and scope of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan

Online, respondents were invited to rank a minimum of two and a maximum of five objectives.

The objective of expressing Canada’s deep gratitude for the sacrifices made by Canadians who served in Afghanistan, including those Canadian Armed Forces members and civilians who lost their lives or were injured—physically and psychologically—in Canada’s mission in Afghanistan made the top two for a large majority of respondents with fully 70% naming this the primary objective of the Monument and another 16% ranking this second. The idea that the Monument would serve as a public space for individual reflection and collective remembrance ranked first among 13% and second among 22%, while encouraging understanding of the significance and scope of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan was ranked first by almost one in ten (9%) and ranked second by one in four respondents. Recognizing the strong support offered by families, friends and communities at home during the mission was ranked in the top two by a quarter of respondents (first – 3%; second – 22%) with half ranking this in their bottom two, while about one in five named acknowledge the efforts of Canadians in standing together with the Afghan people to help rebuild their country in their top two rankings (first – 5%; second 14%) with the majority (58%) naming this in their bottom two.

When looking at average ranking, it is again clear that the objective of expressing gratitude for the sacrifices made by those who served in Afghanistan is by far the most popular objective, with all others trailing behind significantly. When it comes to determining a second place, the average ranking indicates almost a tie between encouraging understanding of the significance and scope of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan and the Monument serving as a public space. Recognizing the support offered by those who stayed behind was ranked fourth overall, while acknowledging the efforts of Canadians in standing together with the Afghan people came in fifth.

Figure 1: Ranking of Monument Objectives
Available choices 1 2 3 4 5 Rank
Express Canada’s deep gratitude for the sacrifices made by Canadians who served in Afghanistan, including those Canadian Armed Forces members and civilians who lost their lives or were injured—physically and psychologically—in Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan 2,802 633 230 93 57 1.42
Encourage understanding of the significance and scope of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan 354 997 782 616 374 2.89
Serve as a public space for individual reflection and collective remembrance 506 888 747 503 567 2.92
Recognize the strong support offered by families, friends and communities at home during the Mission 108 873 757 663 504 3.20
Acknowledge the efforts of Canadians in standing together with the Afghan people to help rebuild their country 208 565 602 609 732 3.40

When looking at the average rankings among the various stakeholder groups, a number of observations are of note:

  • The most important objective by far (express Canada’s deep gratitude for the sacrifices made by Canadians who served in Afghanistan) is the same among all groups;
  • Among family members of those who served in Afghanistan, the objective to recognize the strong support offered by families, friends and communities at home during the mission ranks second (compared to fourth overall);
  • Among current CAF members, the idea of the Monument serving as a public space narrowly outpaced the objective to encourage understanding of the significance and scope of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan, thereby switching the rankings of numbers two and three for this group; and
  • Among the general public, acknowledging the efforts of Canadians in standing together with the Afghan people to help rebuild their country (ranked last overall) received the number four rank and recognizing the strong support offered by families, friends and communities at home during the mission (ranked fourth overall) received the number five rank.
Objective ALL Served in Afghanistan Family of those who served in Afghanistan Current CAF Member Veteran General Public
Express Canada’s deep gratitude for the sacrifices made by Canadians who served in Afghanistan 1.42 1.39 1.43 1.44 1.34 1.48
Encourage understanding of the significance and scope of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan 2.89 2.84 3.07 2.86* 2.97 2.86
Serve as a public space for individual reflection and collective remembrance 2.92 2.83 3.10 2.85* 3.02 2.93
Recognize the strong support offered by families, friends and communities at home during the mission 3.20 3.23 2.97* 3.28 3.11 3.35*
Acknowledge the efforts of Canadians in standing together with the Afghan people to help rebuild their country 3.40 3.58 3.43 3.60 3.51 3.14*

The * indicates that the ranking order differs for a subgroup compared to the overall ranking, meaning this objective was more or less important for this subgroup compared to the findings among all respondents.

This ranking exercise was also undertaken with the participants at the in-person consultation meetings. Reflecting the online consultation findings, there was near consensus that the objective to express Canada’s deep gratitude for the sacrifices made by Canadians who served in Afghanistan was the most important overall objective. The level of importance assigned to the other four objectives varied. The discussions about the objectives revealed some key insights:

Objective Insights
Express Canada’s deep gratitude for the sacrifices made by Canadians who served in Afghanistan.
  • Seen as the overarching idea for the success of the Monument;
  • Said to be the “coat hanger” that some of the other objectives would be guided by and in a sense was seen as the overall “mission statement” for any monument commemorating a foreign mission such as the Afghanistan one.
Encourage understanding of the significance and scope of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan.
  • This objective received particular emphasis among those who were close to the Mission or have a link to Canada’s military;
  • This objective reflected the educational aspect that they felt was key to this monument, something that was brought up time and time again throughout the first consultation meeting;
  • There was a sense that the Afghanistan Mission is misunderstood among the general public;
  • This was not only seen as an important wrong to be righted in that the public would get an opportunity to learn what the Mission was truly about, but also from the perspective that a more educated public would better understand the sacrifices of those who served and those who supported them (accomplishing some of the other objectives). The hope was that it would build an understanding about why Canada was involved and how, and would change the public narrative on the Mission, thereby fostering greater understanding of the Mission and support for those who served;
  • It was also said that an emphasis on the educational piece would ensure the “longevity” of the Monument, making it a place that the public, and in particular younger people, would continue to visit in the future, long after the Veterans of this mission are gone.
Serve as a public space for individual reflection and collective remembrance
  • Said to be what a monument by definition is;
  • If all the other objectives were to be met, specifically the one ranked first, it would automatically follow that it would become a public space (for both individual reflection and collective remembrance);
  • However, there was also some debate about that last point during the first consultation meeting, when it was explored further while discussing the visitor experience question.
Recognize the strong support offered by families, friends and communities at home during the mission
  • This objective was seen as tied to the central idea of sacrifice (by those who served, as reflected in the first objective) – families and others who stayed behind also made sacrifices in order to support those who were deployed.
Acknowledge the efforts of Canadians in standing together with the Afghan people to help rebuild their country
  • Said to be part of the educational piece, as this objective reflects the essence of the Canadian mission in Afghanistan (which was felt to be frequently misunderstood by the public);
  • Reflective of the whole-of-government approach and serves to acknowledge the efforts of non-military groups who were deployed;
  • Provides an opportunity to educate the public on the various roles Canadians played in the Mission.

6.2. Visitor Experience

The question about visitor experience was:

Various visitor experiences are considered when designing a new monument. These experiences guide design teams in their creative approach to how visitors will interact with the monument. Please choose the visitor experiences you think are most important for the National Monument to Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan. Please rank your choices in order of importance.

  1. As a gathering space for a commemorative event or ceremony
  2. As a place for personal reflection and contemplation
  3. As an educational tool that inspires visitors of all ages to learn more about the Mission

Respondents were asked to rank all three options.

Unlike the previous question, results for this question showed a much less obvious first choice. While an almost equal number of participants ranked as a place for personal reflection and contemplation and as an educational tool that inspires visitors of all ages to learn more about the Mission as their top choice for the primary visitor experience – 38% and 37% respectively – the aggregate ranking of each option scored making the Monument a place for reflection slightly above an educational tool overall. It is also important to note that as a gathering space for a commemorative event or ceremony was ranked first by a sizable proportion (26%) but was also selected as the last place option more often than the other two options (38%).

Figure 2: Ranking of Visitor Experience Options
Available choices 1 2 3 Rank
As a place for personal reflection and contemplation 1 445 1 361 1 140 1.92
As an educational tool that inspires visitors of all ages to learn more about the Mission 1 488 1 180 1 274 1.95
As a gathering space for a commemorative event or ceremony 1 042 1 402 1 499 2.12

Analysis of the results by stakeholder group show that:

  • Among current CAF members, the three options were virtually tied; and
  • Among the general public, the idea of the Monument as an educational tool, which ranked second overall, ranked first, followed by a place for personal reflection and contemplation.
Visitor Experience Options ALL Served in Afghanistan Family of those who served in Afghanistan Current CAF Member Veteran General Public
As a place for personal reflection and contemplation 1.92 1.85 1.87 2.00* 1.91 2.04*
As an educational tool that inspires visitors of all ages to learn more about the Mission 1.95 2.04 1.92 2.00* 2.02 1.77*
As a gathering space for a commemorative event or ceremony 2.12 2.10 2.21 2.01* 2.07 2.19

The * indicates that the ranking order differs for a subgroup compared to the overall ranking, meaning this objective was more or less important for this subgroup compared to the findings among all respondents.

The findings from the in-person consultation meetings reflected that the idea of the Monument for events and ceremonies should not be the central, or only, use of the space. At the first of the in-person meetings in particular, the opinions expressed online by the general public were often reflected, with participants emphasizing the educational aspect that they hope the Monument will allow for.

Visitor Experience Options Insights
As a place for personal reflection and contemplation
  • Seen as important for those who served, as well as their families, meaning creating a visitor experience for the immediate or short term (i.e., for the current generation and maybe the next one);
  • Some concern that it would exclude the opportunity to hold events and ceremonies with larger audiences.
As an educational tool that inspires visitors of all ages to learn more about the Mission
  • As seen when discussing the objectives, this is what would give the Monument longevity and purpose for the future;
  • For a very broad audience;
  • Ensuring that it would be visited year-round and not only on certain special occasions;
  • Whether the emphasis of the form would be more on personal reflection / contemplation or on larger events / ceremonies, this was seen as something that could always be successfully incorporated.
As a gathering space for a commemorative event or ceremony
  • Would only be a few times per year, and for narrowly-defined audiences, thereby making it more preferably only one of the uses, rather than the main (or only) use;
  • Said to be possible “either way” but should not be at the exclusion of other types of experiences;
  • It was also mentioned that there are other spaces and monuments in Ottawa where large crowds gather for this purpose, such as the National War Memorial or the Beechwood Cemetery.

6.3. Form and Character

The third question was:

The National Monument to Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan will be located on LeBreton Flats in Ottawa, the traditional territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe People. LeBreton Flats is located across the street from the Canadian War Museum. The site will provide easy access and high visibility to the monument for both vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Design teams will aim to create a design that integrates the Monument into its surroundings and achieves the goal of this initiative. Please indicate your preferred approach for the form and character of the National Monument to Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan by ranking your choices in order of importance.

  1. An impressive monument set in an open space
  2. A human-scale monument set in a more intimate environment
  3. An ensemble of components that encourages movement through the monument site

Respondents were asked to rank all three options.

When looking at the top ranking for this question, two options were virtually tied, with an ensemble of components that encourages movement through the monument site receiving the number one rank from 38.9% of respondents and an impressive monument set in an open space receiving the highest rank 38.5% of the time. However, an ensemble of components was ranked second far more often than third, while this was the opposite for an impressive monument. The aggregate ranking then reflects this difference. Respondents were clear that they did not want to see a human-scale monument in an intimate environment, with only 23% of participants ranking it as their first choice and 43% ranking it as their last choice.

Figure 3: Ranking of Form and Character Options
Available choices 1 2 3 Rank
An ensemble of components that encourages movement through the monument site 1 530 1 668 737 1.80
An impressive monument set in an open space 1 544 920 1 473 1.98
A human-scale monument set in a more intimate environment 898 1 337 1 693 2.12

There is one notable difference in this ranking among the stakeholder groups:

  • Among the general public, the idea of a human-scale monument, which was last overall, is seen as more desirable than an impressive monument set in an open space.
Form and Character Options ALL Served in Afghanistan Family of those who served in Afghanistan Current CAF Member Veteran General Public
An ensemble of components that encourages movement through the monument site 1.80 1.85 1.72 1.89 1.83 1.73
An impressive monument set in an open space 1.98 1.86 2.05 1.77 2.00 2.15*
A human-scale monument set in a more intimate environment 2.20 2.29 2.23 2.34 2.18 2.12*

The * indicates that the ranking order differs for a subgroup compared to the overall ranking, meaning this objective was more or less important for this subgroup compared to the findings among all respondents.

In the in-person discussions, the idea of an ensemble of components was particularly heralded. It must also be noted that there were some discussions about the meaning of “impressive” and that the subjectivity of this made this question rather difficult to answer without further context. Moreover, there were those who felt that the space would lend itself to be all three of these, with, for example, a larger (“more impressive”) central piece, with smaller pieces, including human-scale elements (that could encourage personal reflection) and educational displays surrounding it, that visitors could walk through.

There was also some discussion about the form and scale of the Monument in relation to other monuments, in particular the National Holocaust Monument close by. While some felt that the National Monument to Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan should not be smaller or “less impressive” than the Holocaust Monument, others felt that it could be somewhat more modest because of the much larger number of casualties during the Holocaust.

Form and Character Options Insights
An ensemble of components that encourages movement through the monument site
  • Particularly underscored by those who emphasized the importance of the educational aspect of the Monument;
  • It was mentioned during the second consultation meeting that an ensemble of components would reflect the vision of the late Algonquin Chief William Commanda for that general area along the river, including the Chaudière Falls and Victoria Island, where visitors would interact with the area and walk through it;
  • A sense that this again would encourage the most / broadest use for the broadest audience, including younger generations;
  • Encouraging longer visits, making the Monument more likely to become a destination for tourists and locals alike to spend more time.
An impressive monument set in an open space
  • Seen as a more traditional form and reminiscent of other war monuments;
  • Those who supported this idea often felt that the “impressiveness” of the Monument should not be less than other monuments because that would indicate that this mission was less significant and that the sacrifice was seen as less significant.
A human-scale monument set in a more intimate environment
  • Not necessarily seen as fitting in the large space that was allotted to the Monument;
  • Would also be accomplished within an ensemble of components;
  • More difficult to envision.

6.4. Other Comments

In the online consultations, 1,412 respondents answered the open-ended question: If you have further comments on the design guidelines for the National Monument to Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan, please share them below (500 characters or less).

About a third of the responses received were thoughts on what the Monument should look like, elements that should be included, and hopes for the new monument’s design. Among these answers, a few themes emerged:

  • Many hoped that the Monument site would include protection from the elements and places to sit in reflection;
  • Accessibility of the Monument was also important to many people, both in terms of being accessible to persons of all abilities and being able to access the Monument at all times;
  • The hope that the Monument would include an educational element; and
  • The preference for a traditional, literal design rather than an interpretive or modern art design.

“Sacrifice” was the most common theme in the responses submitted, reflecting that this was seen as the most important overarching objective for the Monument. Some 215 responses highlighted the need for the Monument to respect and honour the sacrifices made during the mission in Afghanistan, as well as afterwards. This sentiment was expressed in a variety of overarching ways:

  • A desire for the Monument to primarily commemorate and honour the ultimate sacrifice made by those who were killed in Afghanistan;
  • Many respondents wanted the Monument to remember the sacrifices made not just by those who served in Afghanistan but also the families and loved ones left behind; and
  • There were also mentions of the mental health sacrifices made by those who served in the mission in Afghanistan. Some respondents felt strongly that the Monument should include a tribute to the men and women who returned home with PTSD and other mental health challenges, and those who have taken their own lives since returning.

Interestingly, while 46 of the respondents remarked that they would like the Monument to predominantly pay respect to the members of the CAF who served in Afghanistan, more than double that number (109) wrote to ask that the Monument be a tribute to all those who served, including police/RCMP, reservists, and civilians in addition to the CAF members.

While the question only asked for comments related to design, some respondents provided comments expressing a more general sentiment. Analysis showed that 112 responses included a positive sentiment regarding the Monument project itself or toward recognizing those who served in Afghanistan. Fewer responses (96) included a negative sentiment. In general, these negative comments expressed dissatisfaction with Canada’s participation in the mission in Afghanistan or with spending money on the building of a monument rather than putting funds toward helping Veterans. In addition, some of the responses offered insight into elements that Canadians felt should be emphasized in the Monument. Two general (and opposite) elements emerged:

  • Highlighting and emphasizing the militaristic nature of the Mission; and
  • Memorializing the humanitarian efforts of the Mission and creating a monument that represents the ideals of world peace.

Some of the general discussions at the in-person consultation meetings reflected some of the comments from the open-ended question in the online consultations. For example, it was generally agreed that the idea of sacrifice should be a central tenet for the Monument. Moreover, the mental health struggles among those who returned were also seen as a sacrifice. Some felt that the Monument could also serve to recognize this and educate the public about it, including mention of suicides. Educating the public about this could also lead those currently struggling to receive more support. It was, for example, said that education could lead to a more general sense of support for this mission, and that there may be more support in mitigating any moral struggles experienced by those who returned (i.e., feeling they did something wrong or didn’t do enough).

The in-person discussions also emphasized a desire on the part of the Algonquin People for further engagement if consideration is given to incorporating elements of their culture or heritage in order to ensure that any such elements would be presented appropriately.

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