A divided crowd made their way down to Victoria City Hall early Saturday Morning, either in protest or in support of the City’s removal of the Sir John A. Macdonald statue from City Hall’s front steps.
At 7 a.m., the City started to remove the contentious statue, and protesters bore signs that read “No honour in genocide” stood next to those wearing Canadian and British Columbian flags down their backs.
“I disagree with the process that they did in order to get this removed. Three councillors pushed this through, they did not want larger debate on this,” said Matthew Breeden. “People opposed to this were never given a voice, never given a chance to say ‘You know what, we want to preserve our history and character, we want to have that statue remain there’, their opinion was forfeit.”
Supporters lined up along the temporary fence to see the statue lifted from its post.
“I think that there’s been a real correction happening here,” said Tsastilqualus. “I don’t have a problem with this statue possibly being put in a museum with true added history, and an explanation of why it’s there.”
Some supporters arrived early for a rally scheduled to start at noon.
“The statue is celebrating and glorifying a particular historical figure who was one of the leading architects of cultural genocide,” said Reuben Rose-Redwood, a member of the Indigenous Solidarity Working Group. ”We’re here to say we’re not erasing history, we’re making history.”
Other protesters believed that context was important.
“Show me a man in 1860 who hasn’t said something or done something that is considered not politically correct to modern standards,” said John, who was uncomfortable giving his last name after people shouted at him in protest. “You’re not going to find such a person. What, are we going to tear down statues of everyone born before 1900?”
John was interrupted by booing from a man who questioned John’s ability, as a White man, to interpret Macdonald, who was a man responsible for genocide.
The man identified as one eighth Metis, but did not want to supply his name.
Debate broke out between both sides, with people shouting across the street to one another.
When the statue was lifted and placed on a truck, two songs began simultaneously, “Na Na Na Na Hey Hey Goodbye,” from supporters, and “Oh, Canada!” from protesters.
The statue was carried away to be put in temporary storage while a new location is decided upon. City staff immediately began installing an interpretive plaque where the statue once stood.