Gassy Jack statue in Vancouver’s Gastown toppled during women’s memorial march, video shows

Click to play video: 'Vancouver’s controversial Gassy Jack statue pulled down'
Vancouver’s controversial Gassy Jack statue pulled down
Vancouver's famous "Gassy Jack" statue was toppled Monday during the annual memorial march for missing and murdered women. T – Feb 14, 2022

The statue of John Deighton, more commonly known as Gassy Jack, was toppled Monday afternoon during the annual Downtown Eastside Women’s Memorial March.

Video shared online shows ropes being placed around the statue and then it falling while people crowded around to cheer.

The statue stands at the edge of Gastown, the neighbourhood in Vancouver named after him.

People tied ropes around the Gassy Jack statue in Gastown before pulling it down Monday afternoon. Chantelle Bellerichard

It has been the subject of controversy before.

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An online petition demanding the statue be removed garnered more than 23,000 signatures.

In a tweet, Monday, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said today’s actions “were dangerous (and) undermines ongoing work with Squamish to guide steps to reconciliation.

The City of Vancouver has been in consultations with (the) Squamish Nation on the right way to remove the Gassy Jack statue and recognize the truth of John Deighton’s harmful legacy.”

Click to play video: 'Women’s Memorial March participant on toppling of Gassy Jack statue'
Women’s Memorial March participant on toppling of Gassy Jack statue

Vancouver police said in a release no one was injured in the incident and no arrests were made.
Vancouver Police are investigating after demonstrators tore down the Gassy Jack statue in Gastown on Monday afternoon.

Critics have said Gassy Jack 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.

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

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.

Click to play video: 'Protesters topple Gassy Jack statue in downtown Vancouver'
Protesters topple Gassy Jack statue in downtown Vancouver

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 his father died.

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The 31st annual Women’s Memorial March started at 10:30 a.m. and moved through the streets of the Downtown Eastside with stops to commemorate where women were last seen or found.

This story will be updated when more information is available.

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