Manitoba grand chief 'upset' with Queen Elizabeth II statue replacement

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs is decrying the Manitoba Government’s decision to re-erect a statue that was toppled two years ago during a protest instead of keeping good on a promise to create a monument honouring a historic treaty.

“There was no consultation, prior notice, or acknowledgement from the provincial government that this would be happening, which is upsetting,” said AMC Grand Chief Cathy Merrick in a press release.

In 2021, the same year as the destruction of the statues of Queen Elizabeth II and Queen Victoria during a protest on Canada Day on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature, the province said it would create a monument to recognize the Peguis Selkirk Treaty.

The treaty was the first agreement signed between First Nations and the Crown in Western Canada.

In February, Minister of Government Services James Teitsma reiterated the government’s word on creating the piece. It is expected to be unveiled in 2024.

“By replacing the Queen Elizabeth II statue as quickly as this before erecting one that honours the history of First Nations in this province, shows a lack of commitment to reconciliation and accountability by this province,” Merrick said in the release.

Last week the bronze statue of Queen Elizabeth II reappeared in its original place after it was torn down on Canada Day in 2021 during a protest over the deaths of children at residential schools.

The province estimated it would cost $500,000 to replace the toppled statue, but an AMC press release states the province confirmed it only cost $60,000 to be re-erected.

Just days after its reinstalment, it was spray-painted with the words “colonizer” and “killer,” but the words were scrubbed off by the next day.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday while visiting the provincial legislature, Gov. Gen. Mary Simon said she hopes people can come together to discuss the issue of the toppled statues.

A second monument, the statue of Queen Victoria, was damaged beyond repair during the 2021 protest and has not been replaced.

Simon, who is Canada’s first Indigenous governor general, said while her office is apolitical on the subject, it’s important for people to recognize the effects colonization and residential schools had on Canada’s Indigenous people.

— with files from The Canadian Press

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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