'It's upsetting': RCMP HQ, monument to fallen officers, human rights museum vandalized overnight
'Is this the future you want?' say red letters spray-painted near Canadian Museum for Human Rights entrance
Three Winnipeg buildings — the local RCMP headquarters, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and Liberal MP Dan Vandal's office — were spray-painted overnight with slogans slamming police and Canada.
Winnipeg police are investigating after graffiti appeared at those locations and on the office of Winnipeg Liberal MP Dan Vandal, with phrases including "Stolen land," "Shut down KKKanada" and "land back."
"F--k RCMP" was painted on a monument dedicated to police officers killed in the line of duty that is outside the RCMP "D" Division headquarters on Portage Avenue.
Sgt. Paul Manaigre, an RCMP spokesperson, said Wednesday that he and other members were initially shocked to see the monument defaced.
"Anger sets in afterwards," he said, as cleanup crews scrubbed the paint behind him.
"We understand … if you want to send a message. But I'm not sure why you would want to target a monument that honours those that gave their lives for the people in this province."
Manaigre said the monument has stood there since 1998 and cost $100,000, which was covered by employee donations and fundraising.
"It's upsetting," he said.
RCMP provided security footage to Winnipeg police after notifying them Wednesday morning, Manaigre said.
Winnipeg police spokesperson Rob Carver said all the acts of vandalism are being investigated as connected incidents.
Carver said he couldn't comment beyond that on the investigation or who police believe may be responsible.
The graffiti follows outrage in communities across Canada after police arrested 10 people at a rail blockade near Belleville, Ont., on Monday.
The blockade went up on Feb. 6, as Mohawks of Tyendinaga demonstrated in solidarity with Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs who oppose the construction of a $6-billion Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline in that region.
While the messages spray-painted in Winnipeg, which included phrases such as "stolen land" and "land back," appear to share sentiments expressed at some protests, Carver and Manaigre both said it's too early to make any conclusions about who is responsible for the graffiti.
A spokesperson for one local group that supports Wet'suwet'en said in a text she has no knowledge about who is responsible for the graffiti, and that her group is only involved in peaceful acts. CBC is not naming the individual for safety reasons.
"I do know the group Indigenous Youth and Allies for Wet'suwet'en only [acts] out of a place of peace and love for the land and land protectors," she wrote.
'Is this the future you want?'
On a wall leading to the entrance of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, red graffiti asked, "Is this the future you want?"
John Young, the museum's chief executive officer, said the graffiti reflects polarization and frustration in Canadian society and a desire to bring attention to issues that matter.
"To be honest, my first instinct was a little of blood boils," he said. "But our mandate is to cultivate reflection, and as we think about it, I think this is a reflection of a very important conversation that is going on in Canada."
It's not appropriate to jump to conclusions about who vandalized the building, he said.
The graffiti highlights the need to address the legacy of colonization in Canada, Young said.
"This is something that we need to wrestle with better as Canadians, the realities of colonization," he said.
"I don't condone graffiti, but I think … we need to recognize this is an effort to make expression."
The museum is currently organizing an event to be held in April on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, in partnership with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, Young said.
The museum has contacted police "as a matter of protocol," he said, and will give them security footage.
Young wouldn't comment on the cost of removing the graffiti.
The future Young hopes for is a journey of reconciliation, he said in response to the graffiti's question "Is this the future you want?"
"This will not be the last challenge, and neither is it the first challenge, but it invites all of us to respond with a commitment to continuing the journey together."
Slogans painted on Vandal's office include "stolen land," "U fail us" and "do better." Vandal is the federal minister of Northern Affairs.
On Wednesday, Vandal said Canada is at a difficult moment in its history, but the vandalism doesn't help.
"It's disappointing when that happens, because the way out of this issue is through dialogue — not vandalizing something or violence," he said.
"We need to talk to one another, and we need to set the right stage and the right table for that."
David Chartrand, president of the Manitoba Metis Federation, said in a written statement he was not surprised by the vandalism but was saddened, especially by the vandalism to the monument to fallen officers.
"I challenge the people who did this, to think how they would feel if someone broke into a graveyard at night and did this to a relative's headstone or gravesite," he wrote.
"People who commit violent acts and vandalize property will never represent nor receive support from the Métis Nation or other democratically elected Indigenous governments."
Arlen Dumas, grand chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, called for a stop to vandalism, as well an end to offensive and racist comments that have been directed at Indigenous people showing support for Wet'suwet'en.
"It is only through peaceful demonstrations and accurate information that we are able to garner public support for the issue before us," he said in a statement issued Wednesday.
"As for the individuals calling for violence against these peaceful demonstrators, there is no room in this world for that kind of hatred or ignorance. We urge you to become learned about what these solidarity actions are about."
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