1 arrested after Queen Victoria statue toppled at Manitoba Legislature

·2 min read
People celebrate after a statue of Queen Victoria was toppled on Thursday at the Manitoba Legislature.  (Travis Golby/CBC - image credit)
People celebrate after a statue of Queen Victoria was toppled on Thursday at the Manitoba Legislature. (Travis Golby/CBC - image credit)

Police shocked a man with a stun gun and arrested him while others lobbed objects their way and yelled profanities after a crowd pulled down a prominent statue of Queen Victoria on the Manitoba Legislature grounds on Thursday.

The circumstances of the arrest remain unclear. It's possible the arrested man was angry at those who had pulled the statue down at around 4 p.m. CT.

The crowd on the grounds was largely peaceful prior to the man's arrest more than an hour later, in which police had to push a throng back to take him into custody.

A Winnipeg police spokesperson declined immediate comment, saying there may be information forthcoming on Friday.

Travis Golby/CBC
Travis Golby/CBC

The grounds were the destination of an Every Child Matters walk on Canada Day afternoon to protest the fallout of Canada's residential schools system.

The statue was left covered in red painted handprints. A sign saying "We were children once. Bring them home" was left leaning on the statue's pedestal after it was toppled.

Dozens of people, many wearing orange shirts in memory of Indigenous children sent to residential schools, surrounded the monument. Some of them wrapped it in ropes and pulled it off its base.

The statue, first unveiled in 1904, was left covered with a Canadian flag which had been written over with black marker with the words "we were children."

Marina von Stackelberg/CBC
Marina von Stackelberg/CBC

A smaller statue of Queen Elizabeth II was also toppled on the east side of the grounds and was left covered in yellow rope.

The toppling of the statues comes on a Canada Day in which thousands took to the city's streets to honour victims and survivors of residential schools.

Belinda Vandenbroeck, a residential school survivor, who spoke to those gathered, told CBC News she had nothing to do with pulling the Queen Victoria statue down, but felt no remorse that it happened.

"This queen is the one that gave our land away just like that to her merry gentleman — her fur traders," she said.

"So I really have no place for her in my heart. I never did. She means nothing to me except that her policies and her colonialism is what is dictating us right to this minute as you and I speak."

Statue vandalized a year prior

CBC has requested comment from the province.

The Queen Victoria monument was defaced in June 2020 in the wake of anti-racism protests.

The statue was doused with white paint with red over its mouth. The justice minister at the time, legislative member Cliff Cullen, said he found the vandalism "very disturbing."

Queen Victoria reigned from June 1837 until her death in 1901, meaning she was the monarch as Canada entered Confederation, negotiated treaties with Indigenous Peoples and as the federal government enacted its residential schools policy.

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