Saskatchewan

Protesters continue pressuring city of Regina to remove John A. Macdonald statue

Protestors say the city of Regina's efforts around the John A. Macdonald statue in Victoria Park are too passive and don't go far enough. They want to see the statue removed and placed somewhere where the man's history can be properly told.

Protestors want to see statue placed somewhere else, where Macdonald's history can be properly explained

The statue of John A. Macdonald in Victoria Park was draped with a Canadian flag by protestors, who vowed to continue returning to the park until the statue was removed and placed elsewhere. (Bryan Eneas/CBC)

About two dozen dedicated protestors gathered in front of the John A. Macdonald statue in Regina's downtown on Sunday, calling once again for it to be removed. 

Alok Udagama said she attended Sunday's rally because she felt it was the right thing to do. 

"Unfortunately the city council and the mayor don't seem to understand that John A. Macdonald is actually a man that committed genocide against the Indigenous peoples," Udagama said. 

"The history has been whitewashed… and what the Indigenous people and people of colour are trying to do is make sure that the truth is out there." 

Star Andreas hosted a prayer circle and moment of silence, honouring those lost in the residential school system that Macdonald had a role in creating. (Bryan Eneas/CBC)

Regina's city council is conducting a legacy review of Macdonald's history and engaging in discussions with Indigenous elders, artists and community members about how to move forward. 

In the meantime, a temporary sign has been chained to the statue stating the city is aware that it represents a "harmful legacy."

Udagama and others in attendance suggested Macdonald's statue should be moved to the legislature building or a museum, where his involvement in the creation of the Indian Act and the residential school system can be discussed alongside his political significance in Canada.

Udagama called the city's actions so far around the statute are passive and not enough and she feared the city's legacy review may result in inaction on the city's behalf. 

Alok Udagama, centre, helped organize Sunday's gathering along with Tanyce June and Lorna Standingready. (Bryan Eneas/CBC)

She vowed to continue emailing city representatives until something changes. Others who gathered on Sunday said they'd be standing in front of the statue, raising awareness and collecting signatures on a petition that will be brought to city council. 

"They're lucky we're not trying to topple it over or do anything like that," Udagama said. 

"We're trying to do this the right way, so they need to meet us there. They need to come up with a plan and actually push it through."

'The climate is perfect'

There have been numerous efforts in the past to remove the statue of Macdonald from Regina's downtown.

But things this time around are different for Udagama.

She said she feels that right now, with statues and monuments to the Confederacy being torn down or removed in the United States, the discussion around the importance of symbols needs to be had in Regina. 

"Right now, the climate is perfect," she said. 

Those against the presence of John A Macdonald's statue vowed on Sunday to continue pressuring Regina's city council and protesting in front of the statue until it's removed. (Bryan Eneas/CBC)

"I feel like a lot of people are waking up from this, almost like, coma to what's been happening… it's crucial that we do this right now, during this climate." 

The group's petition to remove the statue has about 2,500 signatures online and about 190 signatures on a physical copy.

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