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First Nations Monument to Be Shining Example of Accessibility

Douglas Cardinal-designed masterpiece to open Oct. 7
News 04:20 PM by Paul Forsyth Niagara This Week – Thorold|

THOROLD If doesn’t matter if you have trouble walking, can’t see too well or have other disabilities or physical limitations: you’ll be welcomed with open arms just like able-bodied people when the stunning new monument to the pivotal role of First Nations people in building Canada opens up at the Decew House Heritage Park in October.

The monument, designed pro bono by internationally renowned architect Douglas Cardinal, will be a permanent reminder of the role that Indigenous people played in the War of 1812 and in the Battle of Beaverdams fought in beechwoods in Thorold.

Aboriginal warriors aligned with the British and soundly defeated the Americans after heroine Laura Secord famously walked 32 kilometres from Queenston to bring warning of the impending American attack.

But the Friends of Laura Secord group spearheading the monument project also want it to be a shining example of an inclusive society that welcomes people of all abilities: the group successfully obtained funding from the Rick Hansen Access4All Canada 150 Signature Project, which includes federal funding, to ensure the site adjacent to Lake Gibson is fully accessible.

“People with mobility problems have the right to experience Canadian history at the same level as their peers,” said group president Caroline McCormick as work to excavate the accessible pathways around the monument site was carried out on Thursday.

McCormick’s volunteer group worked with Niagara’s Joint Accessibility Advisory Committee (JAC) to ensure every conceivable thing was done to ensure accessibility for all.

For instance, the group is working with experts in horticulture such as the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority and Niagara College to install native plants that will enhance the experience of visually-impaired people, said McCormick.

“If they’re not able to see them, they may be able to hear the rustling of the plants or smell them,” she said.

Project volunteer Bob Watson said the pathway will be specially designed to be smooth but not slippery, with all joints and radials on pathway stones laid perpendicular to the direction of travel. There will also be three feet of crushed stone beneath the 537 paving stones to hopefully guarantee there’s no settling that will make the path uneven, he said.

At the excavation site of what will be a fully accessible pathway for the new monument to Indigenous peoples at the Decew House Heritage Park in Thorold on Aug. 24 were, from left: Joey Hewitt with the Niagara Joint Accessibility Advisory Committee, Thorold city councillor Anthony Longo, Thorold Mayor Ted Luciani, city councillor Fred Neale, Thorold regional councillor Henry D’Angela, city councillor Terry Ugulini, Friends of Laura Secord president Caroline McCormick, Niagara Centre riding MP Vance Badawey, project volunteer Bob Watson, senior advisor Tim Johnson, and Friends member Bryant Prosser.

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