A large statue depicting former British regent Victoria and a smaller statue representing the current Queen Elizabeth were toppled in Winnipeg on Thursday.
“She (Queen Victoria) means nothing to me more than that the politics and colonialism she championed continue to lead us to this moment,” Belinda Vandenbroek, a Catholic boarding school survivor, told CBC Television.
In Montreal, a statue was overturned British explorer James Cook. In many places in the country, National Day celebrations – associated with the colonial era – have been canceled and replaced with memorial services and protests.
The remains of about 1,150 children were discovered in unmarked graves at former Catholic boarding schools in Canada, a former British colony and still part of the Commonwealth. Canada did not become fully independent from the United Kingdom until 1982.
The British government condemns the overturning of the two statues, but expresses its regret.
“Our thoughts are with Aboriginal Canada following these tragic discoveries and we are following developments on this issue closely and continue to engage with the Canadian government on this matter,” a Canadian government spokesman said.
Between 1831 and 1996, 150,000 Aboriginal children were forced to attend boarding schools. Many there were neglected and abused, according to the Truth Commission.
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