25 October 2021, Calgary – Amid the rainy and cold weather on a Saturday afternoon, the first Dr. Jose Rizal Monument in Alberta, Canada, was finally unveiled in Nose Creek Regional Park in the City of Airdrie on 23 October 2021.
A three-foot bust of Dr. Rizal on top of a seven-foot pedestal covered with granite now proudly stands on a 36 ft x 38 ft spot within Airdrie’s Nose Creek Regional Park, where most of the gatherings of the Filipino community in the city takes place.
During the unveiling ceremony, Consul General Zaldy Patron said that the Philippine Consulate General (PCG) in Calgary was “proud to have initiated and led the installation of the Dr. Jose Rizal Monument” which he described as the PCG’s biggest cultural diplomacy project to date. He emphasized that the monument was the PCG’s “humble way of honoring the Philippine national hero, paying tribute to the hard-working Filipinos in Alberta, and promoting Philippine heritage and culture.”
Likewise, Consul General Patron highlighted that the new monument of the Philippine national hero is the first of its kind in Alberta and Western Canada.
The PCG implemented the project in partnership with the Airdrie City Council, the Filipino Airdrie Association (FAA), and the seven-man Rizal Monument Project Team (RMPT), which Consul General Patron formed and headed.
Alberta Associate Minister of Immigration and Multiculturalism Muhammad Yaseen, who graced the event on behalf of the Provincial Government of Alberta, said the monument was an important reminder of the contributions of the Filipino community in Alberta and an opportunity for the province to learn more about their Filipino neighbours. The monument, he added, would showcase the cultural diversity and multiculturalism of Alberta as a great place to live.
In his remarks, Airdrie Mayor Peter Brown expressed thanks to the PCG, FAA and RMPT for making the Rizal Monument project come into fruition. Referring to the monument as a true testament to the cultural diversity of Airdrie, he said it would further enhance the city’s reputation as “the place to be.” He expressed hope that many people from across Alberta would be coming to Airdrie to observe and reflect on the monument and on Dr. Rizal’s importance to the Filipino people.
For his part, Mr. Jun Martin, President of the FAA, stated that the Rizal Monument was a significant representation of all Filipinos and that the FAA was glad to play an important role in bringing a part of the Filipino heritage to Airdrie, Alberta.
Recalling how the Rizal Monument project evolved, Consul General Patron said he first raised the idea of building the Rizal monument with Mayor Brown in June 2019 and formally presented a project proposal to him in September 2020. During the meeting of the Airdrie City Council in October 2020, Consul General Patron made a presentation and convinced the council to approve the project. Two more sessions of the Airdrie City Council in March and April 2021 approved the other details of the project.
The PCG and FAA then commissioned renowned Filipino sculptor Toym Imao to make the Rizal bust now displayed in Airdrie. The bust was shipped from Manila to Calgary then brought to Airdrie.
In July 2021, the PCG, FAA and RMPT organized the 1st ConGen Cup Golf Tournament that also raised funds for the project.
Consul General Patron thanked the 32 major sponsors, 192 brick donors and all the supporters of the Rizal Monument project, which took 14 months to complete.
About 400 attendees from Airdrie and other parts of Alberta braved the inclement weather on 23 October 2021 to witness the historic unveiling of the Rizal Monument in Airdrie.
“I wish to invite the Filipinos in Alberta and their Canadian friends to come to Nose Creek Regional Park in Airdrie to visit and enjoy our community’s Rizal Monument,” Consul General Patron told the Filipinos in Alberta.