The statue of Judge Matthew Begbie was removed from the front of the New Westminster courthouse on Satuday.(Ben Nelms/CBC)

Statue of historic B.C. justice is removed


Another statue of a now-controversial historical figure has been removed from a public square in British Columbia.

As members from local First Nations cheered, a monument to B.C.’s first chief justice, Matthew Begbie, was removed from the New Westminster provincial courthouse square on Saturday.

The New Westminster city council voted to remove it in May.

Last year, a statue of John A. Macdonald was removed from Victoria City Hall.

The Judge Matthew Begbie statue sat on Carnarvon Street outside the provincial courthouse in New Westminster. (Meera Bains/CBC)

Macdonald was Canada’s first prime minister but was also an architect of the Indian Residential School System, which ripped more than 150,000 children from their families where many suffered emotional, physical and/or sexual abuse.

Begbie is perhaps best known for his role in the wrongful hanging of five Tsiljqot’in chiefs near Quesnel in 1864, and a sixth a year later in New Westminster.

Similar disputes continue to simmer–and sometimes erupt--across Canada over commemorative names and statues of historic figures who had a role in the cultural oppression of Indigenous peoples.

A monument of the French explorer Samuel de Champlain, erected in 1925 and removed in 2017, is causing controvrersy in the town of Orillia, Ontario. ( City Archives)

In Orillia, Ontario Ontario, things are coming to a head over a harbourfront statue of French explorer Samuel de Champlain that was removed in 2017.

Last month Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante renamed Amherst Street Atateken Street, meaning “brothers and sisters” in the Mohawk language.

Last year, a statue of Edward Cornwallis, Halifax’s controversial founder, was removed from the park that also carried his name.

As some monuments are removed while others remain or re-assembled, Canadians continue to debate the issue, though mostly minus the antipathy and vehemance that marked the debate two years ago over the removal of Civil War monuments in the U.S.

Folksinging legend Gordon Lightfoot attends the unveiling of Golden Leaves–A Tribute to Gordon Lightfoot, a 13-foot bronze sculpture at Barnfield Point on the Lightfoot Trail in Orillia’s J.B. Tudhope Memorial Park on Oct. 23, 2015. (Canadian Press/City of Orillia)

One statue that is not coming down any time soon: Gordon Lightfoot’s in Orillia.

Bet on that.

Well, maybe not.

With files from CBC, CP, CTV, Global, Huffington Post, Postmedia

Categories: Indigenous, Politics, Religion, Society
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One comment on “Statue of historic B.C. justice is removed
  1. Avatar Edward Schweikert says:

    ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ (George Santayana-1905). ‘Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.’ (Winston Churchill, 1948).