Demonstrators attached eight ropes to the John A. Macdonald statue on Sunday. One demonstrator says the eight ropes are symbolic of the eight Cree warriors Macdonald ordered to be hanged at Battleford in 1885.
The demonstration was part of continuing calls to remove the statue from Regina’s Victoria Park.
Beatrice LaFramboise said she wasn’t aware of Macdonald’s legacy until hearing about it from her daughter and granddaughter.
“I wasn’t aware of all the damage that Macdonald did until I started reading about it,” she said. “There’s so much that I can reflect on. I’m 81 years old and I remember going to the reserve and needing a permit to go there.”
LaFramboise said Macdonald accomplished some good things for white people in Canada but on the backs of First Nations people. LaFramboise said he used First Nations and Chinese workers to get the railroad through.
A second example is LaFramboise’s last name, she said. While in boarding school, LaFramboise said people were asked to donate to help the school and the names of the donors were given to the children.
“So my last name must come from France,” LaFramboise said. “What happened to our real, our true, First Nations names? What happened to them?”
LaFramboise said the prime minister’s legacy of residential schools led to children being sexually abused, people losing their heritage, and more, while students were only taught the positives about Macdonald.
“I feel sad that a lot of us First Nations people don’t know the history,” LaFramboise said. “I have older friends, they don’t have a clue who he is.”
“I hope that the Indigenous youth learn the true facts about this man,” she said. “Not only this man, there’s so many others.”
Antoine Sugar from Piapot First Nation attended the demonstration to show his support. He said he was one of the children taken during the Sixties Scoop — when Indigenous children were adopted into predominantly white homes.
He said he learned about his own culture after his adoptive parents brought him back to Saskatchewan to help him know where he was from and help him heal.
“What he did in the past, what he did to our ancestors, that was not right at all,” Sugar said. “He’s the one that picked on our people when our people were here before anybody else.”
Sugar said anytime he is in the park he feels empty headed and regrets that Macdonald was the country’s first prime minister.
“It should be busted into pieces because that’s what he did,” Sugar said.
Regina police did stop by the rally after ropes were tied around the statue and a demonstrator hit it with a hammer. Police spoke to demonstrators and left soon after.
LaFramboise said things need to change for the next generation. She said the Macdonald statue should be moved inside the Saskatchewan Legislature instead of being in a public park. She said there white people can honour him.
“There is no honour in there for us. All there is is pain,” she said.
“We got to think of our little ones that are coming around. Our grandchildren, my great grandchildren,” LaFramboise said. “We have to change this racism.”