British Columbia

B.C. legislature murals coming down

After years of debate, members of the B.C. legislature have approved the removal of a series of murals from the building's rotunda, which were seen as offensive to aboriginal people.

After years of debate, members of the B.C. legislature have approved the removal of a series of murals from the building's rotunda, whichwere seen as offensive to aboriginal people.

First Nations leaders have complained the four murals, which have adorned the legislature for 70 years, show native people in demeaning or subservient roles.

Part of one of the murals at the B.C. legislature that aboriginal people find offensive. ((B.C. government))
One painting portrays bare-breasted aboriginal people hauling timber while a white man looks on.Another shows a native leader standing before a judge.

On Tuesday evening, MLAs approved a motion to adopt a report done in 2001 that called for the removal of the murals.

Some members had argued that to remove the murals was to try to rewrite history. The final vote was 68-3, with LiberalsDennis Mackay, Dan Jarvis and Blair Lekstrom opposed.

Aboriginal Relations Minister Mike de Jong said the vote will symbolically open the doors of the legislature to aboriginal people.

"This is your place. Join us. You are welcome."

It's a gesture welcomed by Grand Chief Ed John of the First Nations Summit.

"The value of the removal of it to us will be priceless, I think, to all British Columbians." he said.

The removal will not be a simple job. The murals are painted right on the walls. Six year ago the cost of removing them was estimated at $280,000.

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