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Memorial garden next to Basilica of Our Lady vandalized

Two days after a peaceful protest, Garden of Grace is vandalized with pro-choice messages.

Vandals attacked the in-progress Garden of Grace on Catholic Hill sometime overnight Sunday, spray painting the slogan “Condom not condemn” on the memorial garden's walkway.

Those responsible left condoms and their wrappers, sanitary napkins, and tampons strewn around the figure-eight shaped walk, all made to appear used. Tampons were coloured red and placed all along the path, and napkins had hand-written messages on them.

It appears pro-choice activists, or person or persons posing as pro-choice activists, carried out the vandalism. The graffiti had an unmistakable pro-choice message.

Garden of Grace is a grieving garden for life lost through abortion or miscarriage, entirely funded by the local anti-abortion group Guelph and Area Right to Life. The project is valued at $91,000, and will include a pair of life-sized statues, one of an angel kneeling mournfully over an empty cradle, the other of a kneeling Jesus holding an infant.  

In planning for about three years, construction of Garden of Grace began in recent weeks on land owned by the Diocese of Hamilton. The land was offered to the project by Basilica of Our Lady Immaculate, and has been described as a place of peace for women to grieve abortions and miscarriages. Proponents of it say it will be beautiful, and that it will be an important place to visit for those who regret the decision to have an abortion. 

A protest Friday evening at the foot of Catholic Hill attracted as many as 100 people, all condemning the garden as a provocation against those who are pro-choice, and as a way to shame those who chose abortion.

Some called it the "altar of shame," and said it tarnishes a historic landmark and tourist attraction. The towering church as well as the Guelph Civic Museum are situated on the hill, and the site is therefore both a private and public space, those against the garden said.   

Jakki Jeffs, a leader of the Right to Life, and the organizer of the garden, notified about the vandalism on Monday in both an email and telephone message.

“Well, it did not take long for us to see the true colours of "choice" in Guelph,” she wrote in the email.

The concrete base of the walkway was poured over a week ago, and a stone mason has been on the site in recent days, laying limestone on the walkway. An area of completed walkway was spray-painted by the vandals.

Jeffs said in the telephone message that Guelph Police has been contacted and will conduct an investigation.



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Rob O'Flanagan

About the Author: Rob O'Flanagan

Rob O’Flanagan has been a newspaper reporter, photojournalist and columnist for over twenty years. He has won numerous Ontario Newspaper Awards and a National Newspaper Award.
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