Toronto received around 38,000 Irish immigrants during the potato famine during the 1840s, hence the Ireland Park Foundation plans to establish a new cultural center in their honor.
The planning of the center is led by Councillor Joe Cressy of the Trinity-Spadina district in the city. He is seeking to overhaul a former malting building into the new center and has requested the permission from the city to turn the land into a park in the immigrants’ honor as well.
The foundation itself was founded as a means to remember Irish immigrants over the course of Canadian history and recall their plight, according to The Globe and Mail.
This proposed cultural center is particularly pertinent given that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has frequently expressed his support for immigration and has shown understanding for those in need of refuge in Canada.
Read more: Top ten Irish facts about Toronto
To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 28, 2017
Councillor Cressy stated, “For decades, we’ve recognized the need in our city for a space that commemorates the history of Irish-Canadians and that speaks to inclusion and newcomers.”
Memorials for the potato famine are located throughout both Canada and the United States, notably the Irish hunger memorial in downtown Manhattan and the sculptures of Irish immigrants at 5 Eireann Quay in Toronto. The latter installation is symbolic in that the sculptures are directly facing statues of the same kind on the shoreline of Dublin.
The monument at Eireann Quay in Ireland park is meant to honor the 1,186 Irish immigrants who died as a result of typhoid in Toronto in 1847. The park was opened in 2007 by former Irish president Mary McAleese as a commemoration for the 160th anniversary of the famine.
The chairman and founder of the Ireland Park Foundation, Robert G. Kearns, noted that it will host art exhibits, live performances of Irish music, theater, and verse, as well as educational displays that will all be open to the community.
Do you see this project as something that could be successful in your community? What are your thoughts on it?