Canadian protesters tear down statue of nation’s first prime minister accused of racist policies

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Canadian activists have pulled down a statue of the nation’s first prime minister, whose policies were linked with the deaths of many indigenous people, according to reports.

A video showed the moment that protesters were able to pull down the statue of Sir John A MacDonald, with his head bouncing off after the statue hit the ground. A protester than posed for a photo with the head, the BBC reported.

A leaflet distributed at the protest described MacDonald as “a white supremacist who orchestrated the genocide of Indigenous peoples with the creation of the brutal residential schools system,” according to Canadian broadcaster CBC. No arrests have been made.

A statue of the first Canadian Prime Minister John A. Macdonald lies on the ground, with the statue's head a few meters away, at Canada Park in central Montreal on August 29, 2020, after it was pulled down by anti-racism protesters during a demonstration calling for the defunding of the police. - Macdonald's government has been accused of seeking to assimilate indigenous peoples through forcible enrollment in residential schools, for example, that led to a loss of language and culture -- described in a 2015 reconciliation commission report as "cultural genocide." (Photo by Eric THOMAS / AFP) (Photo by ERIC THOMAS/AFP via Getty Images)

A statue of the first Canadian Prime Minister John A. Macdonald lies on the ground, with the statue’s head a few meters away, at Canada Park in central Montreal on August 29, 2020, after it was pulled down by anti-racism protesters during a demonstration calling for the defunding of the police. – Macdonald’s government has been accused of seeking to assimilate indigenous peoples through forcible enrollment in residential schools, for example, that led to a loss of language and culture — described in a 2015 reconciliation commission report as “cultural genocide.” (Photo by Eric THOMAS / AFP) (Photo by ERIC THOMAS/AFP via Getty Images)

“Destroying parts of our history is not the solution,” Quebec’s Premier François Legault said, further condemning the action as “unacceptable.”

A statue of the first Canadian Prime Minister John A. Macdonald lies on the ground (L), with the statue's head a few meters away, at Canada Park in central Montreal on August 29, 2020, after it was pulled down by anti-racism protesters during a demonstration calling for the defunding of the police. - Macdonald's government has been accused of seeking to assimilate indigenous peoples through forcible enrollment in residential schools, for example, that led to a loss of language and culture -- described in a 2015 reconciliation commission report as "cultural genocide." (Photo by Eric THOMAS / AFP) (Photo by ERIC THOMAS/AFP via Getty Images)

A statue of the first Canadian Prime Minister John A. Macdonald lies on the ground (L), with the statue’s head a few meters away, at Canada Park in central Montreal on August 29, 2020, after it was pulled down by anti-racism protesters during a demonstration calling for the defunding of the police. – Macdonald’s government has been accused of seeking to assimilate indigenous peoples through forcible enrollment in residential schools, for example, that led to a loss of language and culture — described in a 2015 reconciliation commission report as “cultural genocide.” (Photo by Eric THOMAS / AFP) (Photo by ERIC THOMAS/AFP via Getty Images)

“Whatever one might think of John A. MacDonald, destroying a monument in this way is unacceptable,” Legault wrote on Twitter. “We must fight racism, but destroying parts of our history is not the solution. Vandalism has no place in our democracy and the statue must be restored.”

The recent shift in MacDonald’s standing, particularly in response to the global protests following George Floyd’s death, has led Scotland to “disowning him,” according to the BBC. Mentions of the Glasgow-born politician have been removed from Scotland.org sites.

In a statement, the Scottish National Party-led government confirmed it had removed articles on Sir John A Macdonald from the websites “following the legitimate concerns raised by Canadian indigenous communities about his legacy.”

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MacDonald helped build the Canadian nation and create the residential school system. His nation-building policies included the forced removal of at least 150,000 indigenous children from their homes and inclusion in state-funded boarding schools.

The policy enforced assimilation, with students banned from speaking their own language or practicing more explicit elements of their culture. Many of those children were supposedly abused, with some dying.

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MacDonald supposedly also allowed famine and disease to kill many indigenous people, with some tribes forced off their lands.



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