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Vandals target Vancouver’s Gassy Jack statue, considered a symbol of Indigenous oppression

Click to play video: 'Vancouver’s ‘Gassy Jack’ statue splattered with paint' Vancouver’s ‘Gassy Jack’ statue splattered with paint
The statue of 'Gassy Jack' Deighton in Vancouver's Gastown was splatted with red paint overnight – Jun 16, 2020

A well-known Vancouver statue was vandalized Tuesday morning.

The statue of John Deighton, more commonly known as Gassy Jack, stands at the edge of Gastown, the neighbourhood in Vancouver named after him.

Red paint was thrown on the statue Tuesday, leaving many asking why it was a target of vandalism.

An online petition demanding the statue be removed has garnered more than 1,000 signatures.

Those who oppose the statue of Gassy Jack say he is a symbol of oppression against Indigenous people, noting he was 40 years old when he married a 12-year-old girl from the Squamish First Nation.

READ MORE: Side-by-side video shows Vancouver’s 52-year transition to ‘gleaming skyscraper village’

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Documents in the City of Vancouver archive show interviews with local pioneers conducted by the city’s first archivist Major James Skitt Matthews.

In volume five of his seven-volume books, Early Vancouver, Matthews interviewed two pioneers about Deighton’s Indigenous wife, Quahail-ya, and later interviewed Quahail-ya herself.

On May 27, 1940, Matthews interviewed a Mrs. James Walker, who said Gassy Jack was first married to Quahail-ya’s aunt. When she died, Quahail-ya became his wife.

Later, on June 13, 1940, Matthews visited Quahail-ya at her home in North Vancouver in the Ustlawn community.

She told Matthews she was “about 12” when she married Gassy Jack.

They had a son, but he died in 1876, one year after Gassy Jack died.

READ MORE: Debt list for Gassy Jack Deighton, one of Vancouver’s founders, goes up for auction

According to the description of Matthew’s visit in 1940, Quahail-ya lived in poverty before passing away in 1948.

The City of Vancouver said it notified police about the red paint and the statue has now been cleaned.

Police confirmed to Global News they are investigating the incident.

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