Windsor, Ontario • The Gordie Howe International Bridge project team is honoured to recognize an important part of the region’s history through a new art commission that symbolizes hope and freedom for past, current and future generations.
The community of Sandwich in Windsor, Ontario, located near the Gordie Howe International Bridge project site, is deeply rooted with rich cultural history. The Underground Railroad that saw thousands of slaves escaping from bondage in the United States make their way to freedom in Canada is an integral part of that cultural history. Windsor-Detroit served as a destination for many through the Underground Railroad. The area remains home to descendants of those who made this journey.
The new art commission will serve as an expression of Canadian identity and history, commemorating the Underground Railroad. It will be located outside the Canadian Port of Entry, in an accessible area, where people can gather to reflect on the sacrifices made in the quest for freedom.
This month, the project team will launch a request for qualifications for professional Canadian artists of the Black, African and Caribbean diaspora living and working in Canada interested in the commission. Details on the process are available at GordieHoweInternationalBridge.com.
The commission is in response to community feedback on the importance of this significant and impactful part of the area’s history. Over the past two years, WDBA has worked with organizations to help develop this commission, including Detroit River Project and the Essex County Black Historical Research Society. During the artist selection process, the project team will gather input from local members of the Black, African and Caribbean diaspora and broader Windsor-Essex community to share with the artist once identified.
Artist selection is anticipated to be complete in summer 2023. The final art concept will be unveiled in late 2023, with installation coinciding with the opening of the Gordie Howe International Bridge project.
“Windsor-Essex has a remarkable and rich Black history as one of the oldest and most diverse Black communities in Canada. This art commission helps us discover and share one more vital chapter in our community’s history as a gateway for tens of thousands of Black American slaves seeking freedom through the Underground Railroad. I recognize the vision of the WDBA to continuously listen to our community and to help us tell our stories that connect us and grow our pride by bridging past and present.”
- Irek Kusmierczyk, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion and Member of Parliament for Windsor—Tecumseh, on behalf of the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities
“Recognizing the area’s rich and unique history is important to Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority. The two communities united by the Gordie Howe International Bridge were influenced by those that sought freedom and refuge. We hope this art commission allows local residents and area visitors to consider today’s freedoms.”
- Heather Grondin, Vice President, Corporate Affairs and External Relations, Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority
“Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority has been diligent in trying to be inclusive of all the different cultures that have made this country great. As a member of the advisory committee, I am thrilled to announce that WDBA is going to be featuring African Canadian art, particularly focused on the Underground Railroad, the African Caribbean and pioneering black Canadians have contributed a lot, and that bridge was a place where freedom started for many of us.”
- Elise Harding-Davis, Former Curator, Amherstburg Freedom Museum
- The commission is anticipated to be a free-standing work of art that reflects the themes of hope and freedom.
- A juried artist selection process will launch in March 2023, following the Canadian Heritage guidelines for public artist selection. Local artists that meet the criteria are encouraged to apply.
- Following artist selection, WDBA will host a public meeting to allow the artist to share initial thoughts on the commission and hear first-hand from community members of the Black, African and Caribbean diaspora and others.
- The commission also includes a mentorship opportunity for a local youth identifying as a member of the Black, African and Caribbean diaspora from Sandwich/west Windsor to work with the artist.
- Backgrounder: Supportive Statements
- Fact Sheet: Commemorating the Underground Railroad at the Canadian Port of Entry
- Visual Art Program webpage
ABOUT WINDSOR-DETROIT BRIDGE AUTHORITY
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 www.GordieHoweInternationalBridge.com and follow the project on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GordieHoweBrg.
ABOUT BRIDGING NORTH AMERICA
Bridging North America (BNA) became the private-sector partner to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the Gordie Howe International Bridge project in September 2018. BNA is comprised of some of the most recognized leaders in the construction and infrastructure industry which includes North American and international companies. BNA partners have significant experience carrying out major infrastructure projects such as the Rt. Hon. Herb Gray Parkway in Windsor, Ontario; New Champlain Bridge Corridor in Montreal, Quebec; Autoroute 30 in Montreal, Quebec; Eglinton Crosstown LRT in Toronto, Ontario; Réseau Express Métropolitain (REM) in Montreal, Quebec; Automated People Mover at LAX Airport, California; Harbor Bridge, Corpus Christi, Texas; Tappan Zee Bridge in New York and San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, California.
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Gordie Howe International Bridge
Media Relations Team