Residential Schools in Canada: Statues of Queen Victoria and Elizabeth II overturned for treatment of Indigenous children | World news
Statues of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II have been demolished in Canada amid protests against the country’s treatment of Indigenous peoples.
The protests were against the country’s boarding school system – which required indigenous children to attend public Christian schools where they were prevented from speaking their own language in order to assimilate them to Canadian society.
Many young people have been raped, beaten, verbally assaulted and suffered from malnutrition, and up to 6,000 are believed to have died.
Over 150,000 children were forced into institutions, which opened during Queen Victoria’s reign and eventually closed in the 1970s.
Thursday marked Canada Day, a usually festive event marking the country’s independence, which this year has seen more low-key recognition following the discovery of nearly 1,000 anonymous graves in residential schools in British Columbia and Saskatchewan.
During Thursday’s protests, people could be heard chanting “no pride in genocide” around the statue of Queen Victoria in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The statue was sprayed with paint before being knocked down by the crowd using a rope.
The plinth was covered in red handprints, with a sign saying “We were kids once, take them home.”
Shortly after, a monument to the current monarch was run over by protesters.
Local reports said a man had been arrested, but this was apparently unrelated to the downed statues.
An indigenous Canadian group said on Wednesday they found 182 human remains at a former Catholic school near Cranbrook, B.C., in unmarked graves.
The school closed in the 1970s.
Following the discovery, Chief Jason Louie of the Lower Kootenay Band told CBC Radio, “Let’s call it what it is.
“It is a mass murder of the natives.
“The Nazis were held accountable for their war crimes.
“I see no difference in the location of the priests and nuns and brothers who are responsible for this mass murder to be held responsible for their part in this attempted genocide of an indigenous people.”
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada in 2015 called the residential school system a “cultural genocide”.