The statue of Sir John A. Macdonald that had been located at Place du Canada in downtown Montreal for the past 120 years will not be reinstalled after it was beheaded and toppled during an anti-racism protest several years ago.
The announcement was made by Montreal city councilor Alia Hassan-Cournol, who said that an independent group of experts spoke before the city’s executive committee, recommending that the statue not be replaced, according to National News.
“We’re keeping the base at Place du Canada. We’re keeping the canopy because we want to remember that it was there, whatever the history. It’s important because it’s part of our collective history. And we have to remember that,” said Hassan-Cournol.
A plaque will also be placed at the pedestal, according to Montreal city council.
The statue had previously been vandalized several times, which many credit to the role Canada’s first prime minister played in overseeing the Indian Act and the creation of residential schools.
“We’re going to fund a call for proposals for a multi-disciplinary artwork. It can be digital, visual, any mixed arts by Montreal artists, particularly by Indigenous artists,” said Hassan-Cournol.
There are many people upset by the decision not to reinstall the more than a century old statue. Among them is official opposition leader Chantal Rossy of Ensemble Montreal, who, “believes that the city should establish clear guidelines to determine which statues should be preserved, turned into places of remembrance, sent to a museum or disappear in the event of further vandalism,” said Rossy.
Carleton University professor Omeasoo Wahpasiw, who teaches Indigenous studies, said that she loves the idea of reimagining history through the use of Indigenous art.
“When I think about history in that way, the history is going to be okay, Canadian history is not going anywhere. I just did my Google search of John A. Macdonald and his greatness arose from the depth of the internet. It’s not disappearing. It’s not ever going to disappear,” said Wahpasiw.
Currently, the statue is being stored in an undisclosed location until the City of Montreal decides what to do with it.