B.C. Indigenous leaders call for unity, end to violence, vandalism in Victoria area

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ESQUIMALT, B.C. — Leaders of nine southern Vancouver Island First Nations want an immediate end to recent violence and vandalism, including the toppling of statues and vandalism of totem poles.

The leaders have signed a document saying such acts are not supported by Indigenous communities.

A Canada Day crowd watched as the statue of Capt. James Cook was pulled from its pedestal near Victoria's Inner Harbour, the head was torn off and the remains were tossed in the water.

A Malahat Nation totem pole was damaged in apparent retaliation and the document signed by the leaders says such acts fuel hate and prevent healing.

The declaration calls on southern Vancouver Island residents to "walk together, support each other and demonstrate humanity."

Leaders of the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations are among those signing the treaty, while B.C’s Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Minister Murray Rankin and local Victoria-area politicians attended the ceremony.

Instead of violence and senseless destruction, the document says residents should "lock arms and look out for one another."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 9, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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