Protesters Tear Down and Deface Statue Of The Queen In Anger

Canadian protesters have torn down and defaced statues of Queen Victoria and Elizabeth II in anger over the historical treatment of indigenous people.


Demonstrators gathered to highlight abuses under Canada’s residential schools system, which saw at least 150,000 indigenous children forced away from their families to assimilate them into Canadian society.

Outrage over the system, which ran from the 19th century until the 1990s, has been fuelled by recent discoveries of hundreds of unmarked graves at the grounds of the schools.

Thursday marked Canada Day, which has traditionally been a celebration of the country’s independence from British rule in 1867.

The date has in recent times prompted mixed reactions following growing awareness of the government’s abuse of First Nation peoples.

Indigenous groups who made the gravesite finds say they have identified 1147 graves which mostly belong to children who attended residential schools.

Up to 6,000 children are thought to have died in the schools, which were funded by the government and administered by the Christian church.

Many were raped, beaten and suffered malnutrition in squalid conditions, according to a seven-year investigation concluded in 2015.

Although compulsory attendance of the schools was introduced after Canadian independence, British royals are seen as symbols of the country’s colonial history.

A group that gathered near the local parliament Winnipeg, Manitoba covered the town’s statue of Queen Victoria in red handprints and left a sign that read: ‘We were children once. Bring them home.’

A smaller statue of the current Queen nearby was also pulled down.

Wednesday saw the most recent discovery of human remains by an indigenous group when 182 graves were found at a Catholic-run school in British Columbia which closed in the 1970s.

Chief Jason Louie of the Lower Kootenay Band told CBC Radio: ‘Let’s call this for what it is. It’s a mass murder of indigenous people.

Hundreds of unmarked graves have recently been linked to the boarding schools (Picture: REUTERS)

‘The Nazis were held accountable for their war crimes.

‘I see no difference in locating the priests and nuns and the brothers who are responsible for this mass murder to be held accountable for their part in this attempt of genocide of an indigenous people.’

A former chief of the St Mary’s Indian Band and a survivor of the school said they had always known of the graves’ existence and called for caution over interpreting the finds.

Sophie Pierre told Global News Canada: ‘To just assume that every unmarked grave inside a graveyard is already tied to a residential school, we’ve got to be a little bit more respectful of our people who are buried in our graveyards.’

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015 called the residential schools system ‘cultural genocide’.



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