A statue of Sir John A. Macdonald is set to be removed from the steps of Victoria’s City Hall this weekend, as communities across the country struggle to reconcile the legacy of the country’s founding prime minister with his treatment of Indigenous people.
The plan to remove the statue, which is expected to pass a city council vote on Thursday, follows year-long discussions with two local First Nations who argued the statue has become a painful reminder of colonialism. But it has also inflamed a debate about whether historical figures should be judged through a modern lens, and how to weigh abuses against Macdonald’s role in shaping the country.
“If we’re serious about reconciliation as a city, which we are, then part of our responsibility is to make sure that the public spaces in Victoria not only start to reflect less of a colonial legacy, but also start to have the signs and symbols and the presence of the Lekwungen people throughout the city,” Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said.
"The other, more concrete piece is that the statue is literally right on the front steps of City Hall, kind of in an overbearing way. For the Indigenous family members who come here to gather, and the many other Indigenous people who come to City Hall for whatever reason, they continuously have to walk past what is a very poignant symbol of colonial violence, of the residential school system.”