A small park at the corner of Barrington and Inglis Streets is set to be renamed after Raymond Taavel, six years after the celebrated LGBTQ+ activist’s tragic death.
Taavel was one of the city’s most prominent voices for gay rights—instrumental in bringing about HRM’s first public proclamation of Pride Week, raising the rainbow flag at City Hall as well as efforts to have equal marriage and transgender rights enshrined in Nova Scotia’s Human Rights Act.
“In the early 2000s—a time when the LGBT community across Canada was raising its profile with city halls in a very significant way—Taavel began a decade of work as one of the foremost leaders of Halifax Pride,” reads a staff report recommending the change, which comes to city council next week.
The 49-year-old was killed outside of Menz Bar in April of 2012 while trying to stop a fight. The next evening over 1,000 people filled Gottingen Street in an outpouring of appreciation. Similar vigils were held throughout the Maritimes and across Canada.
Efforts to celebrate Taavel's legacy began almost immediately thereafter.
Lieutenant governor JJ Grant posthumously awarded
Last year, the
He was an “activist without anger,” says close friend and former coworker Barry Boyce.
“To this day I think that’s his legacy,” Boyce said last month as a guest on The Coast’s podcast. “He knew how to be fierce and push an agenda but he also knew how to listen and care and not alienate people.”
Boyce and other members of the Public ART for Raymond Taavel initiative have been trying to find a way to honour their dearly departed friend’s legacy for several years.
A vacant lot on Gottingen Street was temporarily transformed into a healing garden by artist Brian Pace in honour of
Boyce says the group realized that the tranquillity of a community park would be the most fitting memorial for a peaceful man whose legacy was bringing together
“This is not about Raymond’s death. This is about Raymond’s life,” says Boyce. “No matter how long Raymond lived, it would have been fitting and appropriate to commemorate him and to commemorate him in a way that represents who he was, because he was about the community. He wasn’t about himself.”