Hamilton’s Sir John A. Macdonald statue covered during gathering

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Published June 21, 2021 at 10:10 pm

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The statue of Sir John A. Macdonald in downtown Hamilton remained shrouded through National Indigenous Peoples Day on Monday.

That was in spite of an apparent ill-fated attempt by counter-protesters to remove the wrapping placed during a peaceful protest on Sunday. At a gathering that morning, the statue of Canada’s first prime minister, who is reviled by many for his treatment of Indigenous Peoples and racially discriminatory policies, was wrapped in black fabric that was secured tightly with a red rope. 

At the end of the gathering, the estimated 125 people in attendance walked from the park on King Street West over to Hamilton City Hall. They placed over 200 silhouettes of children around city hall, which was symbolic of the remains of 215 children who died at a Kamloops, B.C., residential school. The children’s remains were found last month with ground-penetrating radar.

Remains of residential school victims have also been found in Brandon, Man., Regina, and Lestock, Sask.

Monday, there were reports that a group of four young men had tried and failed to remove the shrouding. One of them reportedly fell off the statue and was injured.

Last November, the statue was doused in red paint and the works “Land Back” were spray-painted on the ground.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada heard from some 6,500 residential school survivors and people affected by residential schools over a seven-year period from 2008 to ’15. The discovery of the remains in Kamloops has boosted calls for cities and school boards to remove statues or rename institutions honouring both Macdonald and Egerton Ryerson.

Ryerson created a model of a residential school system in the 19th century, when he also founded Ontario’s public education system.

Across Canada, both Charlottetown and Kingston, Ont., the latter of which was Macdonald’s hometown, have removed Macdonald statues from their downtown. The Peel District School Board has begun the process to rename a Brampton public school.

A statue of Ryerson was torn down at the Toronto university named after him. Public schools in Hamilton and Burlington are also going to be renamed.

As for Hamilton’s Sir John A. statue, CHCH TV reported Sunday that the city will receive a report about what to do with the statue from community and emergency services staff. The next meeting of the city’s community and emergency services committee is on July 8 at 1:30 p.m.

(Photo via Wikimedia.)

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