On Sunday, July 2, 2017 the culmination of seven years of imagining a better world took place with the public launch of an extraordinary sculpture garden in an eastern corner of Ottawa, Canada. The Sanctuary, which was established by Dr. Ranjit Perera, a former Fulbright Scholar and retired senior civil servant who worked in international development, was visited by approximately 250 people. A steady stream of people from all walks of life wandered past the more than 60 sculptures lovingly placed throughout the beautiful nine-acre ravine land on Old Montreal Road, in Cumberland, Ottawa.
A volunteer at the event, Suzanne Routhier, was moved by the response of many of those visiting whom, she said, “expressed amazement that something like this exists in Ottawa”. Sculptures of the Buddha meditating, Hindu Gods and Jesus Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, for example, can be found, along with sculptures depicting such human fundamentals as ‘childhood wonder’, ‘evolution’, ‘friendship’, ‘the single mother’ and ‘music’. The sculptures are impressive; they are designed to be permanent fixtures and are made from granite, marble, and other stones or metal. Their creators are artists from as far away as Sri Lanka, India, Vietnam, Zambia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
The launch was a festive occasion marked with speeches and, including messages of congratulations to by the Canadian Prime Minister, Premier of Ontario, Member of the Ontario Parliament, and Mayor of Ottawa. An informal “dialogue on essential values” attracted a number of the participants to the tent and chairs that were set up on the large field adjacent to the ravine.
The Board of Humanics Institute is continuing to develop its plans for the site, including building a multi-faith center and an integral educational facility aimed at bringing people together to explore themes of shared diversity and oneness. Dr. Perera, still hearty having already celebrated his 76th birthday, expressed his confidence that this unique facility will be visited by tens of thousands of Ottawans and tourists in the years to come. A teacher visiting the Park was overheard to say that she would be bringing her classes there to “give them a unique experience to reflect on the meaning of life”.
Those interested in supporting the Sanctuary are invited to become involved by volunteering time, becoming a supporting member, or by sponsoring a sculpture. In particular partners and donors for additional sculptures, including ones representing themes from Islam, Sikhism and Aboriginal spirituality are being actively sought.
The Sanctuary and Sculpture Park is open Thursday to Monday 10:00am to 6:00pm. Admission is $5 for adults ($2.50 for students and seniors; children under 12 are free). Leashed dogs are welcome to accompany their humans in exploring the park