Montreal activists paint statue of John A. Macdonald and call for it to be removed
Calls for the John A. Macdonald monument in Montreal to be removed in light of the first prime minister's racist history have been abundant over the past few weeks, and the statue was painted purple overnight by activists who say they want it gone.
The group responsible for the act of protest are choosing to remain anonymous and have instead labelled themselves "anti-colonial vandals," and they said in a statement that they threw paint on the monument as a way of objecting to Macdonald's anti-Indigenous policies.
John A. Macdonald statue covered in paint overnight in Montreal, the anonymous group “anti-colonial vandals” says.— Jill Kestler-DAmours (@jkdamours) June 15, 2020
The monument is akin to Confederate statues in the US, the activists say, and “stands as a symbol of colonialism and the subjugation of Indigenous peoples.” #cdnpoli pic.twitter.com/3hdgy5taOQ
Macdonald served as Canada's first prime minister in the 1800s and has been widely criticized for his role in helping to create the first residential school as well as the system as a whole.
"The great aim of our legislation has been to do away with the tribal system and assimilate the Indian people in all respects with the other inhabitants of the Dominion as speedily as they are fit to change," he said of the creation of the Indian Act in 1887.
Still, numerous statues in his honour stand across the country to this very day, and many Canadians have had enough.
"The Macdonald Monument is the Canadian equivalent of a racist, Confederate statue in the United States," said one of the Montreal activists in a statement Monday morning.
"It stands as a symbol of colonialism and the subjugation of Indigenous peoples. The Macdonald Monument celebrates an individual whose policies are directly responsible for the genocide of Indigenous peoples in Canada, and the celebration of white supremacy."
Activists also spray painted the words "RCMP Rape Native Women/Kill Native Men" onto the base of the monument overnight.
Meanwhile, a petition calling on Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante to have the statue removed has garnered more than 16,000 signatures to date, though Plante said last week that she has no plans to get rid of the monument and is instead suggesting the installation of a plaque to contextualize its complicated history.
Montréal City Council : Remove white supremacist John A Macdonald Monument. We will not abide the continued celebration of racist, oppressive figures that normalize the ongoing brutality towards BIPOC in our city, province, and country as a whole.https://t.co/AQqd1qTM8G— little fang #BLACKLIVESMATTER (@bunnytits) June 14, 2020
"There is absolutely no reason or room for a racist, colonial, white nationalist to be celebrated on unceded Indigenous land," the petition description states.
"The very fact that this monument exists is an example of the white washing of cultural history, and true 'reconciliation' does not include the glorification of those that actively pursued Indigenous genocide."
Protests and outrage have been ongoing throughout the continent and the world in recent weeks following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis on May 25, and the tragic event has led to a larger conversation about the pervasive systemic racism faced by Black people and other people of colour in our society every single day.
Many statues of racist historical figures have been toppled or officially removed as a result, so John A. Macdonald's Montreal monument is just one of the many structures being forced to face a reckoning in these turbulent times.
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