Statues of both Queen Victoria and Elizabeth II have been toppled in the streets of Canada on the anniversary of the nation’s founding by British colonizers.
The statues, both in Winnipeg, Manitoba, were first covered in red paint and handprints, before being pulled to the ground, amidst a number of other Canada Day protests. The words ‘we were children’ were also painted onto the figures, clearly reflecting the anger and hurt felt by protesters surrounding the ongoing controversy around residential schools in the country.
Following the recent discovery of the mass graves of children in the grounds of schools for indigenous communities, there had been calls for what is usually a day of celebration to be cancelled. The remains of close to 1000 children have been found through the last few months, causing international outcry and an influx of support for the First Nation people. These schools were used to force assimilation for 150,000 native children, and were open in some places as late as the 1990s.
The removal of statues has become a protest symbol throughout some of the biggest movements in recent years. Last summer, a statue of slave trader Edward Colston was removed from its site in Bristol and thrown into the city’s harbour. Similarly, statues of Confederate figures and other prominent slave owners were destroyed across the USA.
Police have said that the protest was peaceful, although a stun gun was used and an arrest was carried out at the scene.