Vandals spray-paint statue of Sir John A. Macdonald in Montreal
Published Friday, August 17, 2018 3:40PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, August 17, 2018 5:00PM EDT
An anonymous group of “anti-colonial vandals” has taken responsibility for spray-painting a statue of Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister and an architect of the residential schools system, in downtown Montreal.
The incident occurred on Friday morning almost a year after the same statue in the city’s Place due Canada was also targeted by vandals.
The group claiming responsibility said that its action was in support of a controversial decision made last week to remove a bronze statue of Macdonald from the steps of city hall in Victoria, B.C.— a step they believe officials in Montreal should also take.
After spraying the statue with red paint, the perpetrators left behind pamphlets describing Macdonald as a “white supremacist” who “directly contributed to the genocide of Indigenous peoples with the creation of the brutal residential schools system.”
Last week, a majority of city councillors in Victoria voted in favour of removing the bronze statue of Macdonald as a gesture of reconciliation toward the Indigenous groups in the city that had long called for its removal.
Macdonald, who served as prime minister for nearly two decades until his death in 1891, has long been celebrated by some for his role in brokering the political deal that created Canada in 1867. But his policies were also responsible for the creation of residential schools where he hoped Indigenous children would “acquire the habits and modes of thought of white men.”
For more than a century, nearly 150,000 Indigenous children were taken from their families and enrolled in the government-funded boarding schools where “child neglect was institutionalized,” according to a report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Opponents of the Victoria city council decision said it was evidence of political correctness run amok.
Andrew Scheer, the leader of the federal Conservatives, said it represented an attempt to “erase history.”
The Macdonald statue in Victoria, which was removed last Saturday, is being kept in storage until a decision is made about where to relocate it.
The vandals who targeted the statue in Montreal said that they believe all statues of Macdonald should be removed from public spaces and placed in museums or archives.
“Public space should celebrate collective struggles for justice and liberation, not white supremacy and genocide,” their pamphlet said.
Montreal police say they are investigating.