Several protesters took down the statues of Queen Elizabeth II and Queen Victoria in Winnipeg, Canada, on Thursday as anger grew over the discovery of unmarked graves of children in indigenous schools, according to news reports. Along with the monarchs, the statue of British explorer Captain James Cook was also toppled by the protesters.
The incident took place on Canada Day (July 1), when the country celebrates its national day every year. The protests were led by the orange-clad members of a group named ‘Idle No More’ according to the online news website Daily Mail.
According to the report, ropes were tied to the statues before they were brought to the ground alongside chants of “no pride in genocide.” The protests came as many citizens had also called for the cancellation of Canada Day celebrations this year due to the country’s colonial past.
The statue of Queen Victoria was toppled outside the Manitoba provincial legislature to the cheer of many protesters and both the statue and pedestal were defaced with red paint hand marks. Meanwhile, the statue of Queen Elizabeth II, which was nearby, was also pulled down by the crowd.
Behind the anger of the protesters is the discovery of many unmarked graves of children in the indigenous schools of Canada.
Nearly 1,000 such graves have been found at the locations of former residential schools in British Columbia and Saskatchewan in Canada, according to news reports. These schools were run by the Catholic Church and funded by the government, according to a Reuters report.
Earlier on June 23, hundreds of such graves were discovered at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan that operated between 1899 and 1997 before it was replaced by a day school.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier on July 1 said that the discoveries of the remains of the children at former schools “have rightfully pressed us to reflect on our country’s historical failures,” during his Canada Day address.
Also, a spokesperson for British PM Boris Johnson said that their government condemned any incident of defacing the statues of the queen. “Our thoughts are with Canada’s indigenous community following these tragic discoveries, and we follow these issues closely and continue to engage with the Government of Canada on indigenous matters,” Reuters quoted the spokesperson as saying, earlier on Friday.
(With inputs from Daily Mail online, agencies)