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Friday, April 1, 2016

KAF Memorial to be Built at Former Nortel Site by 2017


Written by: David Pugliese, The National Post

A memorial to fallen Canadian troops that was once at Kandahar airfield in Afghanistan will be rebuilt in the west end of Ottawa by the summer of next year.

The memorial, known as the Kandahar Airfield Cenotaph, will be located on the former Nortel Campus, the new site for the National Defence headquarters.

An exact location on the grounds has not been decided but the cenotaph is expected to be in place by the summer of 2017, said Canadian Forces spokeswoman Lt.-Cmdr. Diane Grover.

“The KAF Cenotaph was repatriated from Afghanistan at the closure of our combat mission and is currently in storage,” she said. “As a powerful memorial to those who died in the service of Canada, it will be placed on display for viewing by the friends and families of the fallen, the defence team and the public.”
THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Colin Perkel
The Kandahar Memorial when it was located at Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan. Photo: Colin Perkel
Grover said an analysis concluded the cenotaph would not be able to endure long-term exposure to the elements so it will be housed within a new structure. That building will be a 12-metre by 25-metre pavilion, according to DND documents produced last year and obtained by Postmedia. The cenotaph weights about 225,000 kilograms, the documents noted. An artist’s concept prepared for the DND shows a glass enclosure around the cenotaph.

Grover said that because it is expected the cenotaph will be within a secure area of the new headquarters complex, details need to be worked out about providing access to the public and families of the fallen.

Over the next several years, the DND will transfer about 8,500 military and civilian employees to the former Nortel Campus on Carling Ave. Some employees and military personnel are already working from the site.

The cenotaph at Kandahar airfield became a symbol for many Canadians of the losses during the Afghan war.

Canadian Forces personnel and Afghan employees built it in 2006 and added to the monument over time. On the cenotaph are 190 plaques that honour Canadian Forces members who died as well as Foreign Affairs official Glyn Berry, Calgary Herald journalist Michelle Lang, and Marc Cyr, a civilian from a company under contract to the DND. Other plaques honour U.S. military personnel and a civilian member who died while serving under Canadian command.

The granite plaques are etched with the photographs of those who died.

The military has the original drawings for the cenotaph as well as photos and video to help in reconstructing the monument in Canada. The cenotaph is in storage at an Ottawa warehouse.

In 2011 a military working group recommended the cenotaph be located on DND property at Dow’s Lake in Ottawa.
A soldier places a poppy on the Kandahar Airfield Cenotaph during Remembrance Day ceremonies in Afghanistan in 2008.
A CAF Member places a Poppy on the Kandahar Memorial during Remembrance Day in Afghanistan in 2008.
Photo: Post Media File Photo
At the time three Ottawa venues were considered the most serious options as a home for the cenotaph: Beechwood Cemetery, the new DND campus at the former Nortel site and the Dow’s Lake property, according to a July 2011 briefing note prepared for then army commander Lt.-Gen. Peter Devlin.

“When weighing the criteria, the Memorials WG (working group) considered Sanctity to be the most important, followed by Visibility and Accessibility,” Devlin was told in the documents obtained by Postmedia.

The Dow’s Lake option came out on top, followed closely by Beechwood Cemetery, according to the briefing.

The Memorials working group acknowledged that although their recommendation was for Dow’s Lake, a different method to rate the criteria for a location “may be preferable, for reasons not apparent to the Memorials WG.”

The briefing note pointed out that, in the early stages of the evaluation process, one general said Beechwood Cemetery was his favourite option, while another preferred the Nortel site.

In an email to Postmedia in 2011, the DND noted that the cenotaph would be unveiled in 2014. But military sources said that delays in rebuilding the monument in Canada were expected.