Earlier this month, the City of Victoria council sparked public debate after voting to remove the statue of Canada’s first prime minister John A. Macdonald that adorned the front steps of Victoria City Hall.
In an op-ed appearing in the August 29th Times Colonist, Victoria mayor Lisa Helps apologizes for not including residents of the city in the decision. She also outlines the council’s reasoning behind the abrupt removal of the statue.
“I didn’t recognize the great desire of Victoria residents to participate in reconciliation actions,” writes Helps. “The process going forward will enable this.”
As an explanation for why she stood by the decision to remove the statue before coming up with an alternate site to relocate it to, Helps states:
“The statue in its original location was a barrier to Indigenous communities’ engagement with city hall. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls upon all levels of government to engage with Indigenous Peoples on reconciliation action. Without relocating the statue, we were not able to invite First Nations to city hall in good faith and respect.”
The op-ed also includes a promise to relocate the John A. Macdonald statue to “a more appropriate public place” in order to encourage conversation and debate surrounding Canadian history.
“It’s time to move forward together,” reads her main concluding statement.