2 statues of queens toppled at Manitoba Legislature
Queen Victoria reigned during the time Canada enacted its residential school policy
Two statues of queens on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature were pulled down Thursday during a rally aimed at replacing Canada Day celebrations with actions in memory of hundreds of Indigenous children buried in unmarked graves at residential schools across the country.
Dozens of people, many wearing orange shirts in memory of Indigenous children sent to residential schools, surrounded the Queen Victoria statue. Some of them wrapped it in ropes and pulled it off its base.
The statue was covered in red paint handprints. A sign saying "We were children once. Bring them home" was left leaning on the statue's pedestal after it was toppled.
Queen Victoria reigned from June 1837 until her death in 1901. As such, she was the monarch as Canada entered Confederation, negotiated treaties with Indigenous Peoples and as the federal government enacted its residential schools policy.
The statue, first unveiled in 1904, was left covered with a Canadian flag which had been written over with black marker with the words "We were children."
A smaller statue of Queen Elizabeth II was also toppled on the east side of the legislative grounds and was left covered in yellow rope.
The toppling of the statues comes on a Canada Day when thousands took to Winnipeg streets to honour victims and survivors of residential schools.
Belinda Vandenbroeck, a residential school survivor who spoke to those gathered at the legislature, told CBC News she had nothing to do with pulling the Queen Victoria statue down, but felt no remorse that it happened.
"This queen is the one that gave our land away just like that to her merry gentlemen — her fur traders," she said.
"So I really have no place for her in my heart. I never did. She means nothing to me except that her policies and her colonialism is what is dictating us right to this minute as you and I speak."
At one point after the Queen Victoria statue was pulled down, police shocked a man with a stun gun and arrested him while others lobbed objects their way and yelled profanities.
The circumstances of the arrest remain unclear. The crowd on the grounds was largely peaceful prior to the man's arrest, in which police pushed a throng back to take him into custody.
A Winnipeg police spokesperson declined immediate comment, saying there may be information forthcoming on Friday.
CBC has requested comment from the province.
The Queen Victoria monument was defaced in June 2020 in the wake of anti-racism protests.
The statue was doused with white paint with red over its mouth. The justice minister at the time, legislative member Cliff Cullen, said he found the vandalism "very disturbing."
Our ppl took down the queen Elizabeth statue here in Winnipeg💯 <a href="https://t.co/Ppsxg4sfeW">pic.twitter.com/Ppsxg4sfeW</a>—@sickermorestyle