No caribou statue for Gallipoli to honour Royal Newfoundland Regiment
No formal agreement with Turkey to erect statue, government will install plaque instead
Plans for a new caribou statue in Gallipoli in Turkey to mark the contribution of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in the First World War have been scrapped due to provincial budget cuts.
The statue was meant to honour soldiers from Newfoundland and Labrador who were killed in Turkey. Gallipoli was one of the first battles N.L. soldiers fought and 30 died in combat; 10 others died from disease.
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It would have been part of the Trail of the Caribou, which features five statues at different sites in France and Belgium, as well as a sixth in Bowring Park in St. John's.
New Democrat MHA George Murphy questioned Tourism and Culture Minister Darin King in the House of Assembly Monday about plans for the statue.
King said instead of a caribou statue, government will install a plaque at the site.
"We are committed to recognizing it with a plaque among a number of other things, Mr. Speaker, but it is correct that there will not be a caribou," said King.
"I fully appreciate the member's perspective of wanting a monument, but there are many other things we have to focus on as well as part of remembering the legacy of Honour 100 and Beaumont Hamel and all the other events that occurred in history around that event."
Murphy said the plaque is something, but it's not enough.
"Instead there's going to be a plaque with their names on it, which is fine, but it's not going all the way for the people that went all the way for us," said Murphy.
"It was really emotional to hear that and I'm still overcome by it."
However, it may be more than just money that's preventing the provincial government from installing a caribou in Turkey.
There is no formal agreement for the statue yet with Turkey, but the province said it will continue working with the Canadian government and Turkey to install the plaque commemorating the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.
The installation of the plaque in place of the caribou will mean a $500,000 savings.
With files from Peter Cowan