Raymond Taavel memorial discussed in Halifax
Temporary healing garden must be removed next week for Gottingen 250 celebrations
A group of people met in Halifax Thursday to discuss erecting a permanent memorial to honour slain gay rights activist Raymond Taavel.
Taavel died on April 17, 2012, after he was beaten to death outside a gay bar on Gottingen Street. His killing rocked the community, and a temporary memorial was erected in the area.
Now, that memorial must be taken down in preparation for the Gottingen 250 celebrations, marking the long history of the north-end Halifax neighbourhood.
"I think whatever the space … it needs to be something we can interact with. That was such a defining character of Raymond. As we saw after his death people immediately felt that loss," said John Wimberly, a friend of Taavel’s.
Most of the talk at Thursday night’s meeting focused on expanding a walkway. Some felt the path could be named Raymond Taavel Way. But there are bigger plans in the works.
"Coming out of the meeting, there was definitely a feeling that just naming a lane way after Raymond really wasn't, necessarily, enough. There were a number of ideas that were passed around that I think have a lot of merit," said meeting facilitator Nat Smith.
The group discussed numerous ways to make the walkway a fitting tribute, including erecting special light poles, murals and other artwork and even a soapbox for people to stand on to express their opinion — something Taavel was well known for.
"The way that the community celebrated Raymond and came together to create a safe space after the incident was with issues around pride and rainbows so we want to make sure that comes forward in whatever is designed in the future," said Sophia Horwitz, another facilitator.
There isn’t much time. The site will be graded in two weeks, so the healing garden and all the flowers along the fence will have to be removed by Aug. 23.
The group said there will be a sort of temporary Taavel memorial put up in time for the Gottingen 250 celebrations in mid-September.
Andre Noel Denny has been charged in connection with Taavel's death. At the time, Denny was a psychiatric patient on a one-hour pass from the hospital.