Request for Qualifications: Underground Railroad Commemorative Art, Gordie Howe International Bridge
Request for Qualifications – Canadian Professional Artists of the Black, African and Caribbean Diaspora Gordie Howe International Bridge:...

Request for Qualifications – Canadian Professional Artists of the Black, African and Caribbean Diaspora

Gordie Howe International Bridge: Underground Railroad Commemorative Art Opportunity


Closing Date: April 21, 2023 – 11:00 am EST


The land where the GORDIE HOWE INTERNATIONAL BRIDGE project is located holds a rich historical past. For thousands of years, it has served as Anishinaabe Territory for the Three Fire Confederacy, consisting of the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi Nations. The Sandwich, Ontario, community is the oldest continuous European settlement area in Ontario. To many escaping the US slave trade through the Underground Railroad, Windsor-Detroit was a destination representing hope and freedom for themselves and for their offspring. Many of these descendants remain in the Sandwich and the Windsor-Essex-Kent region today, remembering the arduous efforts their ancestors undertook to obtain better lives and liberty.

The Gordie Howe International Bridge project team acknowledges this rich past and is incorporating emblems of respect for those that hold and are nurtured by this land and waterway into its project design and community initiatives.

In recognition of the area’s role as a destination point on the Underground Railroad and the contributions its travelers provided to the region, the Gordie Howe International Bridge project will include a commemorative artwork located at the Canadian Port of Entry. The artwork will serve as a symbol of identity and history with regards to the Underground Railroad.

WDBA invites Canadian professional artists that are members of the Black, African and Caribbean diaspora to submit their credentials for consideration for the first stage of a two-stage competition to select artists to develop a site-specific Underground Railroad art concept for the Gordie Howe International Bridge in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

This Request for Qualifications (RFQ) initiates the first of a two-stage, juried selection process to identify artists to be considered for this project.

Two-Stage Selection Process:

Stage 1: Request for Qualifications

Canadian professional artists that are members of the Black, African and Caribbean diaspora living and working in Canada are invited to submit their credentials for review by WDBA representatives. Credentials are to include a current CV not to exceed 8 pages in total.

A signed non-disclosure agreement (NDA) must accompany the initial credential submission to WDBA. Credentials submitted without a signed NDA will not be considered. Upon successful review of credentials and the NDA, WDBA will send the submitter the Call to Artists Brief. The NDA may be downloaded at:

Canadian artists that are members of the Black, African and Caribbean diaspora who have a strong professional profile, a history of public exhibitions, and who are experienced in creating urban-scale works for exterior locations, or who have successfully worked in collaborative projects are encouraged to apply.

A shortlist of candidates to be interviewed for the possible commission will be identified based on the review of responses to the RFQ. Concepts and works offered for sale shall not be considered. There is no payment for this Stage 1 RFQ submission.

Stage 2: Juried Interviews

Artists who have been shortlisted will be invited to participate in juried interviews that will occur virtually.

A total of one (1) commission will be awarded.

Information on the Commission is contained in the “GORDIE HOWE INTERNATIONAL BRIDGE Call to Artists Brief.” Final approval of artist and commission is by WDBA. WDBA reserves the right to, at any time reject all submissions and cancel this RFQ process.


This competition is open exclusively to qualified Canadian professional artists living and working in Canada that are members of the Black, African and Caribbean diaspora as defined by the Canada Council for the Arts. That is someone who:

  • has specialized training in the artistic field (not necessarily in academic institutions)
  • is recognized as a professional by his or her peers (artists working in the same artistic tradition)
  • is committed to devoting more time to artistic activity, if possible financially
  • has produced an independent body of work
  • has a history of exhibiting work in public
  • has maintained an independent professional practice for at least three years following the completion of specialized training in the field.

How to Submit:

The GORDIE HOWE INTERNATIONAL BRIDGE Call to Artists Brief may be obtained by emailing your credentials and a signed NDA. All inquiries for this RFQ must be sent via email to: to the attention of Karen Mills.

Only emailed communications to this address will be accepted. No telephone inquiries are permitted. If the file size exceeds 30MB, email your Qualifications Submission via a file transfer service to:

c/c Karen Mills at:

On the subject line clearly mark: ‘WDBA Underground Railroad Commemorative Art RFQ’ and the name of the artist.

The submission deadline: April 21, 2023 – 11:00AM EST.

Artists are responsible for the timely submission of their entries. Incomplete submissions may be subject to disqualification. All submission materials will be retained by WDBA.

About the Project

The Gordie Howe International Bridge project is a once-in-a-generation undertaking. Not only will the project deliver much-needed transportation improvements for international travelers, it will also provide jobs and opportunities for growth to the Windsor, Ontario-Detroit, Michigan region and includes features that make this project truly distinctive.

The project consists of four components: a six-lane bridge that includes a multi-use path, two Ports of Entry and the Michigan Interchange to Interstate-75. Upon completion, it will serve as an important and efficient link between the two nations and represent a significant landmark of design and engineering excellence.

The project is overseen by Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA), and it will be delivered using a public-private partnership delivery model. Through a robust P3 procurement process, Bridging North America (BNA) was selected as WDBA’s private-sector partner to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the components of the Gordie Howe International Bridge through a public-private partnership.

We thank all respondents for their submissions but regret that only advancing proponents will be contacted. Beyond formal notification to finalists, WDBA will not enter into any correspondence regarding the artist selection process nor the decision concerning advancing candidates.