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City of Charlottetown begins process of deciding fate of Sir John A. Macdonald bench statue

The bench statue of Sir John A. Macdonald at the corner of Victoria Row and Queen Street in Charlottetown shows the effects of having been sandblasted earlier this week after it was doused with red paint.
The bench statue of Sir John A. Macdonald at the corner of Victoria Row and Queen Street in Charlottetown shows the effects of having been sandblasted earlier this summer after it was doused with red paint. - Dave Stewart
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

The City of Charlottetown has begun the process of deciding the future of the bench statue of Sir John A. Macdonald.

The city’s economic development, tourism and event management committee discussed the issue at a meeting on Tuesday.

The city plans on reaching out immediately to a number of stakeholders in the Indigenous community — including L’nuey, the Native Council of P.E.I. and the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I. — to begin a dialogue on what the long-term solution should be.

“Let’s get a group of people around the table. We need a small but powerful group together to bring all the pieces of information together.’’

- Mayor Philip Brown

City council voted unanimously on June 26 to leave the statue in place at the corner of Victoria Row and Queen Street until consultations were held with key stakeholders. The statue has been the subject of much controversy following anti-racism demonstrations on P.E.I. as well as reactions to the deaths of two Indigenous people in New Brunswick as a result of confrontations with police.

The city was then inundated with calls and emails. Some people want the statue removed, period. It was around this time that the statue was vandalized with a splash of red paint. The city paid $1,200 to have the paint sandblasted off.

City workers clean off red paint dumped on the John A. Macdonald statue on June 19.
City workers clean off red paint dumped on the John A. Macdonald statue on June 19.

 

The Colorado artist, Mike Halterman, recently told The Guardian he has received hate emails from people opposed to the statue. 

There is a plaque next to the statue that briefly goes into Macdonald’s role as Canada’s first prime minister and in Confederation but there is no mention of his role as the architect of residential schools which separated Indigenous children from their parents and led to abuse and problems that have festered for more than a century.

Coun. Alanna Jankov, a member of the economic development, tourism and event management committee, said the city can’t drag its heels on this issue and stressed the importance of getting input from a cross-section of the Indigenous community.

Coun. Alanna Jankov
Coun. Alanna Jankov

 

Mayor Philip Brown, who sits on all of the standing committees, said he’s already been having discussions with those in the Indigenous community and with Ed MacDonald, a history professor at UPEI.

“Let’s get a group of people around the table,’’ Brown said.

“We need a small but powerful group together to bring all the pieces of information together.’’

Brown also talked about bringing Halterman up to restore the statue.

Halterman told The Guardian that it’s his work and no one else is to touch it.

However, Jankov said it’s too early to consider paying Halterman to restore the statue, explaining that a decision has to be made first whether the statue is going to stay or go, long term.

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