The City of Regina says the downtown statue of Canada’s first prime minister represents a “harmful legacy” and that the piece of public art is under review.
A sign hanging around the feet of the John A. Macdonald monument in Victoria Park Tuesday morning indicated the city has begun consultation with elders and community members, including artists and cultural groups, on how best to proceed.
“The city will seek guidance on responding to harmful legacies and increasing community understanding of Regina’s diverse histories,” adds a post on the city’s website, which notes there will be opportunities for broader public engagement.
In late 2019, Regina city council approved a civic art and cultural collections policy outlining the following options for dealing with harmful legacies:
- displaying counter-monuments or other response pieces
- reinterpreting the historic significance with modern context
- removing and replacing the piece
John A. Macdonald has become a contentious and controversial historical figure, given his role in establishing colonial systems that oppressed Indigenous peoples across the country.
Ten days ago, a group of six people peacefully gathered in Victoria Park, advocating for the removal of the monument.
In an interview with Global News on June 20, Evening Star Andreas reiterated the harm caused to Indigenous peoples by John A. Macdonald’s policies, including residential schools. She said they reached out to the city with concerns about the statue.
“Put something here that Regina can be proud of,” Evening Star Andreas said.
“Our children are watching. Our elders are watching.”
While she said the group would be fine with relocating the statue out of the busy downtown, she noted there are people who want it gone for good.
The statue of him in Regina has been vandalized on multiple occasions. In one incident, the statue’s hands were spray painted red.
Other Canadian municipalities have been handed petitions calling for the removal of their John A. Macdonald statues. Victoria, B.C., obliged, although some argued taking down the monument was an attempt at erasing history.