Early Saturday morning workers with the City of Victoria removed the Sir John A. Macdonald statue outside the steps of city hall.
The city blocked off the statue from public view with fences and barricades as workers spent a few hours taking down the monument.
“We’ve accepted that reconciliation is about truth-telling, trust building, relationship building and it’s going to take decades,” said Mayor Lisa Helps.
(Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps. Photo: Amber Bernard/APTN)
Along with being Canada’s first prime minister, he also pushed the residential school system policy forward.
A small crowd of supporters and those opposing the city’s decision gathered to watch.
“I’ve lived in Victoria for 25 years and never once have I looked in the face of that statue,” said Barbara Todd Hager, Metis-Cree writer/director from Alberta.
“During the Northwest Rebellion, three of my relatives died. Killed by the Canadian military, that was sent out by Sir John A. Macdonald and that’s always been a part of my family history.”
(Barbara Todd Hager. Photo: Amber Bernard/APTN)
Earlier this week city council voted seven to one in favour of removing the statue.
City officials believe this is an appropriate step towards reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and that Victoria needs to be an inclusive and safe space for all of its citizens.
Those in opposition to the city council’s decision say they’re upset no public debate or vote was considered before removing the statue.
“I know there’s a lot of people upset about it, I’m upset about it. He (Sir John A. Macdonald) was obviously our country’s first prime minister and it’s sad to see part of our history erased like this,” said Aaron Gunn, a spokesperson with B.C. Proud.
Others are happy to see the statue go and hope it serves as a platform for positive public discussion about Canada’s historical treatment towards indigenous people.
City officials plan to use the removal of the statue as an opportunity to create reconciliation talks and dialogue between all the people of Victoria.
“I don’t think I’ve had as many conversations about John A. Macdonald, his role as prime minister, his role as the founder of the residential school system, in the last few days as I have in my whole life. So it’s actually the opposite of erasing history,” said Mayor Lisa Helps.
The city has placed the statue into storage and plans to hold a public discussion sometime soon about where the statue should be placed.