British Columbia

Controversial statue of Judge Begbie removed from New Westminster courthouse square

A controversial statue of B.C.’s first chief justice, Matthew Begbie has been removed from the New Westminster provincial courthouse square.

City council voted in May to have statue removed

The statue of Judge Matthew Begbie has been removed from the front of the New Westminster courthouse, and awaits its new home. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

A controversial statue of B.C.'s first chief justice, Matthew Begbie, has been removed from the New Westminster provincial courthouse square. 

A cheer was heard as workers carefully removed Begbie's likeness on Saturday. 

New Westminster city council voted to remove the statue at a meeting in May

Councillors Nadine Nakagawa and Chuck Puchmayr put forward the motion for removal, citing Begbie's role in the wrongful hanging of five Tsilhqot'in Nation Chiefs near Quesnel in 1864, and a sixth chief a year later in New Westminster.

The Chiefs were accused of murdering 14 members of a road-building crew. Begbie oversaw the trial.

"The Tsilhqot'in Chiefs, who were at war with the Colony of British Columbia, were deceived into meeting with the Colonial Government, for the purpose of peace talks," the motion said. 

The motion said the statue is "a symbol of the colonial era and this grave injustice."

In 2018, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, on behalf of the Canadian government, apologized and absolved the Indigenous leaders of any wrongdoing.

The city will coordinate with the community, the museum and archives, and the Tsilhqot'in Nation to find an appropriate place for the statue.