Renewed calls to remove Sir John A. Macdonald statue in Baden, Ont. after recent vandalism
KITCHENER -- A statue of Canada's first prime minister was vandalized with a large amount of red paint in Baden.
The vandalism comes as historical statues with ties to racism are defaced across North America.
Waterloo Regional police say that just after 7 a.m. on Sunday, someone reported that the Sir John A. Macdonald statue located at Castle Kilbride had been damaged.
The statue, which is part of the Prime Ministers Path, had paint poured over its head.
The paint has since been removed and police say they are in the early stages of the investigation. Anyone with information is asked to come forward.
The statue was originally installed at Wilfrid Laurier University back in 2015.
This was followed by backlash from staff and students due to Macdonald's role in establishing the residential school system, where Indigenous children were taken from their families and sent to church-run, government-funded boarding schools.
As a result, thousands of Indigenous children were physically, sexually and emotionally abused.
The statue was relocated to Castle Kilbride, with a plan to eventually put up statues of all of Canada's prime ministers.
Wilmot Township Mayor Les Armstrong says the statue comes with an online educational component that includes information on the dark side of Macdonald's legacy.
“We have to understand that the bad things that were going on there we don’t want to repeat them, so it’s important to remember,” said Armstrong. “That which we forget tends to repeat itself. That’s what we’re trying to do. That’s what the whole project is about.”
Lori Campbell, the Director of Shatitsirótha’ Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre at the University of Waterloo, says the statue should come down.
She adds that the past can be learned through a museum, not a statue.
AREA COUNCILLORS RESPOND TO VANDALISM
CTV News reached out to the councillors in the Township of Wilmot. They said the statue is part of a larger conversation about Sir John A. Macdonald’s role in Canada’s history and agreed there is still work to be done with the Indigenous community in the area.
Here’s what the councillors had to say:
Ward 1 Coun. Angie Hallman: “I was proud to introduce the Land Acknowledgment we now read before each council meeting. Sensitivity towards the feelings and history of Indigenous people has been a personal educational journey for me and I hope all of council will join me in this path to learn how we can be true allies.”
Ward 3 Coun. Barry Fisher: “It is quite disheartening to have seen the defacement of the Sir John A. Macdonald statue Sunday morning. I know there are many views regarding the statue, but I don’t feel that vandalism was the appropriate approach.
The Prime Ministers Path was created as a collection of statues and as an educational tool to learn and to encourage conversation about all of Canada’s prime ministers, not just Sir John A. He was the first in the collection and the title of his statue is called ‘A Canadian Conversation.’ Each prime minister that has served will have successes and failures in both their public and private lives. We cannot change the past in what they did in the era that they served, we can only learn from it through conversation and discussions. I think the Path was a good thing for Wilmot Township and feel that Sir John A. should stay.”
Ward 4 Coun. Jeff Gerber: "The ongoing Prime Minister's Path project is a series of statues of all of Canada's Prime Ministers. The project is designed and intended to be a jumping off point for a deeper understanding of our history. Council has proceeded and expanded on the Prime Minister's Path project with a realization that our country's leaders have parts of their legacy that are both regrettable and controversial. The political statement concerning Sir John A. Macdonald's role in establishing the residential school system made this weekend on National Indigenous People's Day is a reflection of that.
Interestingly, that particular piece of the Prime Minister's Path is called ‘A Conversation’ and it has sparked conversations in our community that would likely not have taken place otherwise. I look forward to continuing the conversation on developing a deeper understanding of our nation's history and the role the Prime Minister's Path plays in that.”
Ward 4 Coun. Jennifer Pfenning: “[Sunday] was Indigenous Peoples Day and the fact that someone felt compelled to pour paint on a statue of Sir John A. Macdonald indicates to me that we have not done enough to make Indigenous people feel heard and respected in this community. As a mother who has lost a child, I have a taste of the anguish caused by the policies that he enacted during his time in office. The pain and trauma caused by those policies and the legacy we have not yet abandoned are not washed away as easily as the paint used to express this political statement. I hope we can begin to work toward making Wilmot Township a place that Indigenous people feel respected and heard.”
CTV News reached out to the other city councillors in Wilmot Township, but did not hear back as of 4:15 p.m.
CALLS TO ACTION AROUND THE WORLD
On Friday, a statue of Sir John A. Macdonald in Prince Edward Island was also doused in red paint.
The discovery of the vandalism also coincides with the celebration of National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada, which recognizes the cultures and contributions of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Indigenous peoples.
With reporting from Krista Simpson