Queen Victoria statue torn down at protest over indigenous deaths
A prominent statue of Queen Victoria has been torn down by protesters in Canada as anger grows over the deaths of indigenous children at residential schools. The protesters cheered as the statue at the legislature in Manitoba's capital Winnipeg was toppled on Thursday.
A smaller statue of UK monarch Queen Elizabeth II was also upended nearby. Local media said police used a stun gun to arrest at man at the scene but the protest was largely peaceful. The toppling of the statues came on Canada Day, an annual celebration on 1 July that marks the country's founding by British colonies in 1867.
The recent discoveries of unmarked indigenous Canadian graves at residential schools had prompted calls for national celebrations to be called off. More than 150,000 indigenous Canadian children were taken from their families and forced to attend the schools during the 19th and 20th Centuries with the aim of forcibly assimilating them into society.
Municipalities across Canada cancelled celebrations and statues of figures involved with residential schools have been vandalized or removed. In Winnipeg, thousands took to the streets to honor victims of residential schools and rally support for indigenous communities. A group of protesters had marched on the Manitoba Legislature as part of a demonstration against the deaths of indigenous Canadian children at residential schools. But it was not immediately clear why the protesters decided to target the statues of the British queens in the city.
British monarch from 1837 until her death in 1901, Queen Victoria was on the throne during the founding of the Canadian confederation. The British Crown negotiated treaties with indigenous First Nations in Canada and the government enacted its residential schools policy during her reign. At the protest in Winnipeg, the statue of Queen Victoria was daubed in red paint while a sign saying "we were children" was left nearby.