Sit-in protest at Regina John A. Macdonald statue hits day 14

“We would like it removed for what he stands for. We don’t want to destroy it.”

Two women have spent two weeks protesting at the John A. Macdonald statue in Regina’s Victoria Park, saying they want the monument to Canada’s first prime minister taken down.

“It’s a peaceful sit in we call it. We invite the public to come and sit with us,” said Kerry Bellegarde Opoonechaw from James Smith Cree Nation.

“We’ve been here every day, and we also approached the city council. We’ve been there twice and we have no response.”

People across Canada have been protesting the symbolism of statues of past leaders and  colonizers.

Star Andres has been there everyday with her to peacefully protest the statue of Macdonald.

“We came out here to have John’s statue removed. We would like it removed for what he stands for. We don’t want to destroy it,” said Andres. “We just want it relocated maybe to the museum or the leg.”

While Macdonald is among Canada’s most famous politicians, he’s also one of the most controversial.

Andres says his statues across Canada are shameful considering they represent a man who started residential schools.

“He wasn’t a very nice man. He was our first prime minister but he created the residential schools,” said Andres. “They made residential schools priests and nuns, and those priests and nuns did bad things to the kids.”

Bellegarde Opoonechaw says they cover the face of the statue because she was told by her chief that’s what to do.

“He told me to put that over his head because he should not be looking at us while we are trying to, you know, take him down,” she said. “Across Canada none of them should be up because of what he stands for.”

They plan to continue the peaceful sit-in until Canada Day, but after that they will keep trying.

They started an event page on Facebook called Dear John that outlines what John A. McDonald stands for to Indigenous people in Canada.

Reporter / Saskatoon

Priscilla is Cree and a member of Mistawasis Nehiyawak in Saskatchewan. She has worked with APTN National News in the past as a reporter in Winnipeg, host for an entertainment segment, and the 2010 Winter Olympics. Wolf is an alumni of the INCA –Indian Communications Arts Program at FNUC & has a BA of Indigenous Studies from the University of Regina. She brings over ten years of experience working in media across the prairie provinces.