Public Art Registry
Marker of Change
Photo: City of Vancouver, 2023
Marker of Change - photo by Barbara Cole
Marker of Change - photo by City of Vancouver, 2023
Marker of Change - photo by City of Vancouver, 2023
Main Street & Terminal
Thornton Park
Central area in front of the bus terminal
Pink granite
Site-integrated work
In place
City of Vancouver
Women's Monument
Description of work
The monument consists of a 100' diameter circle of 14 pink granite benches each 5.5' long with a slight bowl in the top. Each bench is inscribed with the name of one of the 14 women killed by a gunman on December 6th, 1989, at the l'Ecole Polytechnique, University of Montreal. The benches are about the length and width of a woman's body and the depression in the center of each bench catches rain water, a reference to tears. A 98' diameter circle outside the benches is set w/ 500 7½" square tiles with the names of donors. The circle is situated close to the center of the park and makes reference to ancient stone circles. The space inside the circle is slightly domed and covered with grass. An alter-like podium stands just outside the circles and bears the name of the piece and an inscription. Over time, Marker of Change has quietly asserted itself into the consciousness of the community and has become a site for individual reflection and meditation as well as a place of discovery.
Artist statement
It took nearly eight years for this monument to come into being. A committee was formed in conjunction with Capilano College and a subsequent national competition drew 98 entries. Toronto artist Beth Alber won with the design incorporating 14 pink granite benches in a circle. It stands as a reminder of violence against women in society. The competition policies state that, "The Women's Monument is conceived as a rational monument to be located in Vancouver, BC, dedicated to all women who have been murdered by men, and naming the 14 women killed in Montreal on Dec 6,1989. It will provide a focus for healing and a tangible symbol of remembrance." Beth Alber's artist proposal states, "The circle, the symbol used by women for centuries to represent a continuum, in a non-hierarchical way, is one of the major elements for this Women's Monument. It is a symbol of women's spirit and is associated with the idea of a protected or consecrated space." During the course of the project, considerable controversy was stirred up by the wording of the inscription which is dedicated to "all women who have been murdered by men". Many people felt this inscription was too political. Some were critical about the eventual cost of the monument, approximately $500,000, which they felt could have been put to better purpose. Many felt that the monument was too specific and was inappropriately sited in a public place, and that public money shouldn't be used to commemorate what was construed to be a private grief. But despite the obstacles, "Marker of Change" was unveiled in Thornton Park on December 6th, 1997 exactly eight years after the 14 women were killed.
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