Kitchener-Waterloo

Wilmot council unanimously vote to remove 4 remaining statues of Prime Ministers Path

Councillors in Wilmot Township have voted unanimously to remove the four remaining statues of former prime ministers from their current location in Baden, on the east portion of the township’s administration complex property.

Statues will be removed and put into storage, Coun. Cheryl Gordijk says

This statue of Sir John A. Macdonald was moved from its location beside the Wilmot Township offices in Baden, Ont. in August of 2020. (Joe Pavia/CBC)

Councillors in Wilmot Township have voted unanimously to remove the four remaining statues of former prime ministers from their current location in Baden, on the east portion of the township's administration complex property.

The council held a special meeting Monday evening to receive a report from First Peoples Group — an Indigenous advisory firm located in Ottawa — which made three recommendations for the Prime Ministers Path project.

"All three recommendations were approved unanimously by our council," Coun. Cheryl Gordijk told CBC K-W's The Morning Edition.

"The statues that are still on the path will be removed and put into storage, which is the first recommendation and the contract with Createscape will be cancelled."

Staff will arrange for the immediate removal and temporary storage of the four remaining statues on the Prime Ministers Path and discontinue any future expansion or investment in the path as it exists today. 

On July 27, 2020, the council adopted a notice of motion to undertake public engagement regarding Baden's Prime Ministers Path. 

Coun. Cheryl Gordijk says staff will arrange for the immediate removal and temporary storage of the four remaining statues on the Prime Ministers Path. (Submitted by Cheryl Gordijk)

In August of 2020, the statue of Canada's first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald was removed and put into storage while the community consultation was in progress. 

Macdonald was an architect of the residential school system and was the catalyst for beginning a fulsome review of the Prime Ministers Path in Wilmot Township. 

First Peoples Group was engaged by the council to design and lead a comprehensive engagement strategy, to include community conversations and a broad online engagement for all Wilmot residents to provide input and feedback.

"The second recommendation is to form a community group with all voices at the table to find out what to do next with the statues and how to proceed with them and perhaps outreach to museums etc., because that was the overall voice that was heard, was to put them into a museum so that they could be given a proper context within knowledge about our past," Gordijk said.

"The last recommendation was for us to be more accountable and have more open consultations with our community going forward within our own Wilmot Township."

Listen to Coun. Cheryl Gordijk speak about the decision on CBC K-W's The Morning Edition:

Councillors in Wilmot Township have voted unanimously to remove the four remaining statues of former prime ministers from their current location in Baden, on the east portion of the township's administration complex property. 6:51

Difficult conversation for community

Guy Freedman, president of the First Peoples Group, has thanked the residents of the Township of Wilmot for their participation in and passion for the community engagement process. 

"We want to reiterate that we recognize that this has been a difficult conversation for the community, however the hard work has only just begun," Freedman said. 

"We hope that courage and kindness guide your future engagements to move forward on these issues and remind you all that Wilmot has the potential to show Canada that healing and reconciliation can be achieved."

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