Windsor, ON - The Gordie Howe International Bridge project team is pleased to share the artistic concept developed by contemporary artist, Jordan Sook, that recognizes and commemorates the region’s role as a destination for freedom-seekers of African descent leaving behind slavery and oppression by travelling the Underground Railroad to Canada.  

The large-scale free-standing sculpture, titled Make a Joyful Noise, symbolizes hope and freedom for past, current and future generations. The artwork is a three metre/nine-foot circular metal structure composed of replica church pews and intentional lighting. Through this concept, the artist signifies the network of institutions, connectivity and resilience, and a pathway through the uses of: 

  • replica church pews to represent the role churches often played in offering assistance and safe harbour for those travelling from the southern US to freedom in the north 
  • the circular form to represent the idea of looking up to the sky, which provided direction to those travelling along the Underground Railroad 
  • lighting at night to help simulate the stars that aided navigation. 

Located outside the Canadian Port of Entry’s security perimeter and visible to travellers as they enter and exit Canada using the multi-use path, the commemorative artwork will be accessible for the public to visit and reflect upon. Installation of the artwork will coincide with the opening of the Gordie Howe International Bridge. 

The commemorative art commission includes a mentorship opportunity for a local youth identifying as a member of the Black, African and Caribbean diaspora from Windsor-Essex to work with the artist. Chidera Ikewibe, the successful mentorship candidate, is a Canadian-born Igbo-Nigerian artist and poet residing in Windsor, Ontario. Her art practice takes a multidisciplinary approach, including poetry, sculpture, acrylics, digital art and animation.  

A sketch of Mr. Sook’s concept along with original artworks inspired by his time in Windsor-Essex are featured in The Closest I’ve Felt to God, a new exhibit at Art Windsor-Essex opening on June 20, 2024, and running until fall 2024.  


“The process of getting to this concept was a truly inspiring experience. Being immersed in the Windsor-Detroit community and spending time with descendants, gave me a lot of perspective, insights, and thought starters which played a role in the development of this concept. With this work I aim to honor the past, empower the present and inspire future generations.” 

  • Jordan Sook, Artist 

“Our commitment to community investment has yielded astounding results for the Windsor-Detroit region over the past five years, with over 100 projects underway or complete through the Neighbourhood Infrastructure Strategy. I am incredibly proud of the work we’ve accomplished in collaboration with our valued delivery partners.” 

  • Charl van Niekerk, CEO, Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA) 

 “We are fortunate to live in one of Canada’s oldest and most vibrant communities of descendants of freedom-seekers. This art commission serves as a reminder of when our community provided safe harbour for tens of thousands fleeing slavery in the Southern US in search of freedom through the Underground Railroad. I appreciate the efforts of the WDBA to honour the rich history of Windsor-Essex that will create a lasting impression for local residents and visitors.” 

  • Irek Kusmierczyk, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages and Member of Parliament for Windsor—Tecumseh, on behalf of the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities  


  • Jordan Sook is a contemporary mixed media artist who works and resides in Toronto, Canada and looks to change the landscape of Canadian art and broaden the framework and understanding of Black art as a whole. 
  • WDBA completed an extensive artist selection process in 2023, consisting of interviews with short-listed candidates of the Black, African and Caribbean diaspora from across Canada. The selection committee was comprised of project aesthetics staff and external art experts and included Black, African and Caribbean representation. 
  • In 2023, the project team met with organizations serving the Black, African and Caribbean diaspora and also hosted a Meet-the-Artist event for descendants of freedom-seekers to collect feedback on possible themes for the artist’s consideration.  
  • In addition to continued collaboration with the Detroit River Project and the Essex County Black Historical Society, WDBA appreciates the donation of materials and the installation of concrete provided by Amico, a Windsor-based company, to support the commission and the donation of time and services by Karen Mills, Public Art Management. 
  • Between 1800-1860, more than 30,000 refugees from slavery and free people of African descent used the network and routes of the Underground Railroad to reach freedom with many of them crossing the Detroit River to Canada.    
  • WDBA appreciates the donation of time and expertise provided by Public Art Consultant Karen Mills, as well as materials and the installation of concrete provided by Amico, a Windsor-based company, to support the commission. 



Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA) is a not-for-profit Canadian Crown corporation created to deliver the Gordie Howe International Bridge project between Windsor, ON and Detroit, MI through a public- private partnership (P3). WDBA is responsible for overseeing and managing the construction and operation of the new crossing. For more information on WDBA visit and follow the project on Facebook at

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Gordie Howe International Bridge  
Media Relations Team