Premier Pallister’s remarks come after statues of the British Monarch located on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature were toppled.
Reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous people should be the staple of all administrations. The notion of reconciliation and what it means vary depending on the Government in power. Most Canadians can accept Canada has a gigantic role to play in doing right by the Indigenous people, however that has not been the same sentiment of every elected official.
For example; the call for an inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Woman, Girls and Two-Spirited people went ignored for decades. The call for reparations and official apologies to Residential and Indian Day Schools also ignored for decades until Prime Minister Trudeau came to power.
The basic human right to have access to clean water still remains a work in progress on Indigenous lands, but not all Canadians or past governments share the same sentiment for equal human rights for Canada’s Indigenous Community.
On Canada Day, Manitobans along with the rest of Canada used the day to peacefully march to honour the recent unearthing of mass unmarked graves of children from the Residential School Genocide. At the tail end of the march, a few individuals took it upon themselves to deface and topple a of couple statues of the British Monarchs situated on the Legislative grounds.
Immediately after the march, leaders of the Indigenous community condemned the incident as they do not condone acts of violence or destruction of property. Many members of the community also condoned the manner the statues were removed, but agreed that historical figures of the Monarch represents colonialism and the destruction of Indigenous culture and should be removed.
“I want to be very clear: the statues will go back up. The people who came here to this country before it was a country, and since, didn’t come here to destroy anything — they came here to build.” Said Premier Pallister. The Premier also called the actions of the vandals “failures of character on display.”
“The Premier talks of ‘building up’ and being a ‘beacon of light’ to people around the world and, almost as an afterthought, to the Indigenous people of this country. The Premier misses the point and forgets that the awareness events were for the Indigenous children and babies that were murdered and buried in unmarked graves throughout Canada by the same colonial ‘ancestors’ he speaks of. They were about bringing justice to those young children and ensuring they are given the proper burials that they were denied.
“Mr. Premier, I say to you, look into your heart and revise your commentary regarding the thousands of children that were raped, murdered, and tortured in these institutions of genocide. Your attempt to downplay the seriousness of genocide by mentioning ‘all people of the world’ is pitiful.” Said MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee
“Reconciliation is impossible when you have a settler at the helm denying, romanticizing and minimizing colonization” Said Nahanni Fontaine, NDP Justice Critic
Statues and street names are some of the most visible symbols of colonization and injustices in Canada. They are also the ones that can easily be undone with the will of the government. These gestures of symbolism will be greatly appreciated as a part of the reconciliation process with Canada’s Indigenous community. .
As of now, there are no statues honouring any Indigenous people on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature and nominal streets that bear their names. Premier Pallister has promised some time ago to erect a statue of Chief Peguis on the grounds of the Manitoba Parliament and engage in further consultation of the placement of statues that are on the current premises.