The Arch of Healing and Reconciliation was recently installed near the Central Library, honoring immigrants in the Pacific Northwest and unity among Whatcom County residents.
An April 21, 2018, celebration and unveiling of the 12-foot, 10-ton red granite monument drew scores of participants. The monument is the first part of a multi-faceted project to honor and remember the contributions, sacrifices and bravery of the community’s immigrants, and acknowledge shameful periods in local history when anti-immigrant sentiments resulted in many being forced out.
“There are millions of first generation immigrants in United States from all over the world today, who are serving this nation at all levels and contributing to our nation’s well being. We recognize their contributions and welcome them in our community.” said Satpal Sidhu, a member of the Whatcom County Council and chair of the Arch of Healing organization.
The Arch of Healing and Reconciliation project committee’s website describes Bellingham’s long history of immigrants traveling through on their way up and down the West Coast, many settling in the area and making significant contributions to the community. But the community hasn’t always been a welcoming place for immigrants, with Chinese, Indian and Japanese immigrants, in particular, targeted and forcibly removed from the community.
The goal of all facets of the project is to create teaching and learning opportunities for future generations in the hope of avoiding additional anti-immigrant sentiment and violence.
Located on the corner of Lottie and North Commercial streets in Lee Memorial Park just north of the Bellingham Public Library Central Library, the arch includes bronze plaques with dates and short descriptions of three episodes in Whatcom County in which immigrants were targeted for removal: Chinese Americans in 1885, Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus from India in 1907, and Japanese Americans in 1942.
The base of the arch has 18-inch-square black granite tiles with “Welcome” in seven languages, with special recognition being made to Lummi, Nooksack and other local tribes.
Key contributors to this effort include members of the Arch of Healing and Reconciliatation project committee, the Whatcom Community Foundation and Ram Construction.
A bridge to the past and a monument of hope moving forward dedicated in Bellingham (The Bellingham Herald, April 22, 2018)
Photo above of the Arch of Healing and Reconciliation dedication ceremony on April 21, 2018, by Bellingham City Councilmember Terry Bornemann.