Charlottetown committee discusses controversial statue
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —
Some changes could be coming to a controversial statue in downtown Charlottetown. Despite feedback from interest groups asking for its dismantling, however, the Sir John A. Macdonald bench isn't going anywhere.
The statue at the corner of Queen Street and Victoria Row featuring Canada's first prime minister came up at Charlottetown council’s most recent meeting of the standing committee on economic development, tourism and event management.
There, the committee heard that discussions have been ongoing with organizations representing Indigenous people — L’nuey, the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I. and the Native Council of P.E.I.
The first choice out of those discussions is to remove the statue. However, council voted unanimously in June to leave the statue where it is but possibly add to it following discussions with interested parties.
The committee was told by staff with the city that the stakeholders want changes made so that the statue no longer serves as a photo op and instead educates the public through some form of signage or a plaque detailing Macdonald's involvement setting up the residential school system. Residential school officials forcefully removed Indigenous children from their families and many of them were abused and died in the schools.
No one on the committee was specific about what changes could be made that would transform the location from one that serves an entertainment purpose to an educational one.
Coun. Julie McCabe, chairwoman of the committee, said it’s important the city act on this issue after it committed earlier this year to listening to the Indigenous community.