gassy jack statue

This is why people want the Gassy Jack statue in Vancouver taken down

The Gassy Jack statue in Vancouver's Gastown area has come under fire recently, with thousands of people now petitioning for it to be taken down as soon as possible.

As of Wednesday afternoon, over 4,200 people have signed a petition calling for the statue's removal.

On Tuesday morning, Gassy Jack was also splattered with red paint, which has since been removed by the city's clean-up crews.

While some statues in Canada are under fire for glorifying historical figures that implemented racist programs such as the Residential School Program, "Gassy Jack" has more direct ties to Indigenous abuse.

The statue commemorates Jack Deighton, known as "Gassy Jack" for his talkativeness, who married and ultimately impregnated a 12-year-old Indigenous girl.

Deighton — a prominent saloon owner in the late 1860s — was 40 years old at the time of their marriage.

In "Red Women Rising," a short video released by the Battered Womens Support Services in June 2019, the narrator explains that Gassy Jack is an ongoing reminder of the oppression of Indigenous women.

"Gassy Jack's statue still standing there commemorates and celebrates the ongoing devastation of First Nations people, our laws, our land, our rights, and mostly our women," the narrator says.

"When I see that statue standing there it enrages me, it offends me, it insults me, it hurts me and it motivates me to keep doing what I have to do to reclaim — to be — another one of those red women rising."

Canadians are understandably horrified to learn of the disturbing history behind the Gassy Jack statue, with thousands of people now calling for its removal.

"We have no business honouring known pedophiles with statues in this day and age," one person wrote. "We change, we grow, we evolve — and our surroundings must change too."

"Replace the statue with a new one of 12-year old Quahail-ya and a plaque explaining her story," another added, referring to Deighton's underage wife.

"Your regular reminder that Gassy Jack was a child rapist and that the little girl he "married" lived until 1948," another person said. "This is not ancient history."

The City of Vancouver said on Wednesday that it will review "structural racism" such as statues and street names as part of its Commemorations Policy.

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