BC Proud has organized a rally in protest of the removal of the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald from the front steps of Victoria’s City Hall.
The decision to remove the statue was made in June 2017 through the City’s Witness Reconciliation Program and City Family, but the removal date was only announced on Wednesday, resulting in push back from citizens who felt more discussion was necessary.
“We’re upset,” said Aaron Gunn, spokesperson for BC Proud, an online advocacy group. “[Mayor] Helps, instead of consulting the public, is erasing Canada’s and Victoria’s history instead of leaving it alone and learning from it.”
The statue is being removed due to Macdonald’s controversial legacy. While he acted as a Victoria MP, and Canada’s first Prime Minister, he was also the Minister of Indian Affairs during Canada’s implementation of residential schools.
The City Family felt it didn’t want people visiting City Hall to have to walk past a statue that was potentially associated with trauma.
For Gunn, removing the statue is a way of turning a blind eye to Macdonald’s wrongdoings.
“If it’s unseen, it stops us from learning from history, celebrating achievements and acknowledging our mistakes,” Gunn said. “Victoria is steeped in history, where do we go from here? Do we change the name of the City because it’s named after a colonial queen? Do we change the name of the province?”
The statue is scheduled to be removed at 7 a.m. Saturday morning, but the rally isn’t scheduled until 12:00 p.m.
“If the statue is gone by the time we get there, it just compounds our message,” Gunn Said. “This is very much the beginning of the battle to save this statue.”