Native memorial to be unveiled on Queenston Heights

After more than 200 years, the significant sacrifices and contributions made by First Nations during the War of 1812 will be permanently recognized. Landscape of Nations: The Six Nations and Native Allies Commemorative Memorial, a public artwork of deep meaning, exquisite beauty and power will be unveiled on the historic battlefield in Queenston Heights Park, Niagara-on-the-Lake, at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2.

The memorial also recognizes the historic ceremony of peace and reconciliation held in Niagara on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, 1815, that restored peace among the Native nations who fought on opposing sides.

Undertaken eight years ago by the Working Group, a volunteer sub-committee of the Niagara-on-the-Lake War of 1812 Bicentennial Committee, the memorial will become an important heritage destination asset for The Niagara Parks Commission (NPC) and is intended to serve as an educational beacon illuminating the critically important contributions Native peoples made to Canada during its formative years.

“We are still making history here in Niagara-on-the-Lake,” said Lord Mayor Pat Darte. “This beautiful memorial will not only convey essential knowledge about Canada’s heritage, but also challenge viewers to consider the meaning of our ongoing relationship with Native peoples.”

“The Niagara Parks Commission is pleased to have taken part in this Landscape of Nations project and we look forward to the official dedication of this significant memorial,” stated NPC Chair Janice Thomson. “The preservation of Niagara’s unique history is an incredibly important aspect of what we do and we take tremendous pride in helping Canadians and international visitors better understand the rich history of this country and the important contributions the residents, soldiers and First Nations peoples of this region made to the development of Canada. This memorial, on the lands of Queenston Heights, helps us do exactly that.”

The unique memorial site, identified and offered by The Niagara Parks Commission, is embraced by the earthworks of old Fort Riall, resting under a broad canopy of tall mature trees. Following a juried competition of anonymous submissions assessed by experts in history, arts and culture, the final winning design emerged from a collaboration by landscape architect Tom Ridout of Fleisher Ridout Partnership Inc. and Raymond Skye, a renowned Six Nations artist.

A successful national fundraising campaign followed, which received donations from all levels of government (federal, provincial, municipal), corporations, foundations, private businesses and numerous individual citizens raising the budgeted $1.4 million needed for the project.

“Knowledge of the courage, sacrifice and contribution by Native peoples in the War of 1812 will forever change your understanding of Canada’s history,” said Working Group Co-chair Tim Johnson. As a former Smithsonian Institution executive who oversaw critically acclaimed exhibitions and launched a national education initiative at the National Museum of the American Indian, Johnson said he “can attest to the artistic merit and educational imperative of the Landscape of Nations memorial.”

The essential educational understandings of the memorial evoke themes of courage, remembrance, mutual respect and affirmation, and reconciliation. Included within the discourse of ideas stimulated by the memorial is a contextual awareness of the meaning of the covenant of friendship between First Nations and the Crown.

“After the destruction of the first monument for Isaac Brock in 1840, the Native allies spearheaded a fundraising drive to erect the present monument (1853), contributing far more per person than any other segment of the population of Upper Canada,” said Richard Merritt, co-chair of the Working Group.

The dedication ceremony will include the unveiling of bronze sculptures of Native leaders John Norton and John Brant and of eight bronze medallions featured on the Queenston limestone walls forming the center memory circle; the poignant “Bundling of Seven Arrows” ceremony; and the metaphorical burial of the weapons of war by school children under a majestic white pine, the Tree of Peace.

After the public has an opportunity to tour the memorial by walking along its symbolic Two Row Wampum trail, the dedication ceremony becomes a celebration of peace and friendship. Native American Music Award-winning bands Dark Water Rising and The Ollivanders, from the U.S. and Canadian sides of the border respectively, will perform a special concert culminating in a Unity Jam. The concert will be followed by a special performance of “The Honouring” by the acclaimed Native dance troupe Kaha:wi Dance Theatre, led by Artistic Director Santee Smith.

Refreshments will be available for sale as well as unique souvenirs to mark the occasion. For more information, please visit