HALIFAX – There is an effort underway to come up with a lasting tribute for Raymond Taavel, a gay rights activist who was beaten to death outside a bar in Halifax’s north end.
After his death in 2012, a makeshift memorial came together across the street. A year later, an artist visiting the city created a healing garden in the empty lot.
“It’s something to walk by and it gives you an opportunity to really think about Raymond’s legacy,” said Kate Shewan from the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project.
The tribute, however, was meant to be temporary and is set to be dismantled. The privately-owned land is scheduled for development this fall and prior to that, the lot has to be levelled to make a stage for this September’s Gottingen 250 Festival.
“With its removal, we want to make sure that process was respectful and that people who believe the site means something to them has the opportunity to come and be a part of the removal of the garden,” said Nathaniel Smith, who sits on the festival’s committee.
The groups are inviting the community to discuss ideas for a permanent memorial, which could include a plaque, a bench or naming the nearby pathway off Gottingen Street after Taavel. A public meeting is scheduled at the site for Monday evening.
“I think it would be very hurtful for the community if there was just an excavator there one day and everything was gone. So it’s very important to have this discussion now and say, ‘okay what do we want to put there?'” Shewan said.
“In 10 – or 20 years even – people will be able to read [the memorial] and sort of ask questions about Raymond and about what he did for the community.”
It’s expected the garden will be taken down within the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, the trial for the man accused in Taavel’s death is scheduled to begin this September.
Andre Noel Denny is charged with second-degree murder. At the time of Taavel’s death, Denny had failed to return to the East Coast Forensic Hospital from an unescorted leave.