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Damaged veterans monument to be replaced next year

1311lveteransculpture41.jpg Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo Richard Jalbert, acting president of the Yellowknife Legion, left, and Tammy Roberts, public communications unveil a sign that stands where a Veterans Monument once stood on 49 Avenue.

Representatives from the Royal Canadian Legion Yellownknife Branch 164 are taking a bit more time to replace a bronze sculpture that was damaged by vandalism in July.

Richard Jalbert, acting president, Tammy Roberts, public communications, and William Morrison, secretary and membership director of the Yellowknife Legion, greeted media Sunday morning with an unveiling of a temporary sign where the Veterans Monument once stood by the Joint Task Force North headquarters on Veterans Memorial Drive.

Richard Jalbert, acting president of the Yellowknife Legion, left, and Tammy Roberts, public communications, unveil a sign that stands where a Veterans Monument once stood on 49 Avenue.
Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

In September, the Legion issued a news release seeking a team of Northwest Territories artists to design, produce and install a sculpture. Proposals at the time had a Nov. 1 deadline but that date is now being extended.

"We are extending the proposal for the project until Nov. 30, 2019," Jalbert said in a statement he read allowed at the foot of where the statue once stood.

"The new memorial will be installed on this spot sometime in 2020."

The sculpture was erected by the Royal Canadian Legion in 2005 to mark the Year of the Veteran and the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Former Premier Joe Handley had been on hand to unveil it at the time.

The branch started a GoFund Me Page after the vandalism and the intent had been to the raise enough money to replace the statue in 2019.

A plaque where a bronze monument once stood dedicated to veterans is to see a replacement next year.
Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

Members of the public are still invited to make a donation for the project and the Go Fund Me page is still active. As of Sunday morning, $1,998 was raised through the website toward a $25,000 target.

"The original plan had been to have it replaced for today," Roberts said, adding it was misunderstood how long it would take. "We did not want it to be empty for Remembrance Day and we wanted something."

The Veterans Monument on 49 Avenue was badly vandalized in July. The Royal Canadian Legion is hoping to find a team of artists willing to replace it for 2020.
NNSL file photo

Roberts said there are various government grants that are available which the Legion had not explored but first the organization needs to put together a budget before proceeding to apply.

"We are waiting to make a decision on what artists we want to go with so that we can make a budget," she said.

Roberts said the final design may not necessarily be a bronze sculpture.

"We are totally open to anything that will be sturdy and that will be there for a long time," she said.

"We would like it done for sure by this time next year, but hopefully we can do it when it is a bit warmer."

History of the sculpture 

The sculpture that was damaged was erected on Remembrance Day 2005 at a cost of almost $50,000. Funding at the time had come from various sources, including $37,000 from the Yellowknife Legion, $8,000 from the Fort Smith Legion and $3,000 from the GNWT.

The 90 kg monument, which was constructed by Eli Nasogaluak, was made from a winterstone and finished in bronze. It commemorated the contributions of men and women who served in wartime and peace and depicted the archangel Michael holding the book of life, hovering over two soldiers on the beach in Normandy and a Canadian female nurse.

The monument's history is no stranger to vandalism as in 2006 - within a year of its construction - the support on the heel of the statue was broken off and went missing. The top of the heel was cracked so badly that it was barely hanging on, according to a June 2006 article in the Yellowknifer.