On the eve of a mass anti-racist protest that saw thousands take to the streets of Montreal, an anonymous group of activists issued a statement Sunday taking credit for defacing a prominent statue of John A. Macdonald.
The statement placed the action in the context of growing international protest movements targeting statues and other memorials to the past leaders and architects of white supremacist governments and policies. It referenced Macdonald’s overt white supremacy and his responsibility for the hanging of Métis leader Louis Riel.
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The Montreal statue honouring Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister, is not the only focal point for debate. This summer a group in Regina launched a petition and held a rally to remove a Macdonald statue in the Saskatchewan capital.
Here is the full statement released to the media explaining the targeting of the Macdonald Monument.
The action today is inspired in part by movements in the USA to target public symbols of white supremacy for removal, such as Confederate statues. It’s also motivated by decolonial protests, like the “Rhodes Must Fall” movement in South Africa. As well, we are directly inspired by protests by anti-colonial activists — both Indigenous and non-Indigenous — against John. A. Macdonald, particularly in Kingston, Ontario, Macdonald’s hometown.
We also note efforts elsewhere in the Canadian state to rename the schools named after Macdonald, including a resolution by the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario who denounced Macdonald as the “architect of genocide against Indigenous people.” The defacing of the Macdonald Monument is also appropriate in the context of the whitewashing of Canadian history this year during the “Canada 150” celebrations, and various calls to action, including the “375+150 = Bullshit” graffiti action this summer.
With all that inspiring and amazing anti-colonial and anti-racist activity targeting statues and other symbols, we decided to make a little contribution from Montreal.
John A. Macdonald was a white supremacist. He directly contributed to the genocide of Indigenous peoples with the creation of the brutal residential schools system, as well as other measures meant to destroy native cultures and traditions. He was racist and hostile towards non-white minority groups in Canada, openly promoting the preservation of a so-called “Aryan” Canada. He passed laws to exclude people of Chinese origin. He was responsible for the hanging of Métis martyr Louis Riel. Macdonald’s statue belongs in a museum, not as a monument taking up public space in Montreal.