Plaque replacing Sir John A Macdonald statue defaced Victoria keeping monument

first_imgVICTORIA – An offer from Ontario to find a new home for a statue of Sir John A. Macdonald has been declined by the city of Victoria.Mayor Lisa Helps says the city is carefully storing the statue of Canada’s first prime minister after recently removing it from the grounds at city hall.She says in a text that the city is continuing to discuss the best place to locate the statue with First Nations and the community.The statue of Macdonald, who represented Victoria in Parliament from 1878 to 1882, was removed as part of the reconciliation process with the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations.Helps and several Victoria councillors began discussions last year to remove the statue in light of Macdonald’s role in the creation of the residential school system that displaced thousands of Indigenous youth.A temporary plaque placed where the statue was removed was vandalized less than a day after it was installed.The words “communism” and “1984” were scrawled on the surface and a large X was scratched on the plaque that explained the reasons for the statue’s removal.Helps says she’s not surprised the plaque was vandalized.Macdonald should be celebrated for “all the great things” he has done but it’s also time to “grapple with all the other legacies of his term in office,” Helps told radio station CFAX.“I think we have broadened the conversation and if that’s changing history, then maybe we have.”Helps has been criticized for fast-tracking the statue’s removal just two days after council vote on Thursday, but she dismissed complaints about a lack of consultation.“I don’t imagine, in 1982, when the statue was put in, there was any consultation either.”The Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations were consulted because they are the most directly affected, she said.Sylvia Jones, Ontario’s minister of tourism, culture and sport, told the legislature Monday that it is important to learn from the mistakes made by historical figures.“There are historical figures who served in this house from across the political spectrum who, frankly, their views would not be viewed very appreciatively now,” she said. “We cannot let extreme political correctness dictate what people can learn and see in our communities. Using that logic, there would not be a museum open in the province of Ontario today.”Helps said Victoria continues to look for the right place for the statue.“The city has no intention of getting rid of the statue. It was a gift to the city,” she said in her text to The Canadian Press. “We are storing it carefully and in the meantime, we will have a continued dialogue with the nations and the community as to the best place, way and context to place the statue that balances commemoration with reconciliation.” (The Canadian Press, CFAX)last_img

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