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Hamilton activists plan next move after Macdonald statue uncovered

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Hamilton activists plan next move after Macdonald statue uncovered

The statue of Sir John A. Macdonald in Gore Park in downtown Hamilton. (File photo)

Within hours of the shrouding being removed from the Sir John A. Macdonald statue in downtown Hamilton, one of the organizers of the effort to put it there had already started a letter-writing campaign to press for its removal.

The statue in Gore Park of Canada’s first prime minister, who was the architect of Canada’s residential school system, was covered in fabric on Sunday during a gathering held by about 125 Indigenous activists and allies. It was removed overnight early Wednesday — not by city staff, but by another group.

Reports on multiple media portals have stated that the group who tried and failed to remove the fabric on Monday — which was National Indigenous Peoples Day — are white nationalists.

On Wednesday, Jordan Carrier, a Plains Cree woman who helped organize the event on Sunday, said she would start a letter-writing campaign, asking supporters to contact city councillors.

Both Kingston, Ont., and Charlottetown have removed statues of Macdonald from downtown spaces. The moves came after the remains of 215 Indigenous children were confirmed found at a site of one of the residential schools in Kamloops, B.C., in late May. Remains of another 177 Indigenous children have since been found at three sites in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

The retaliation to the action in Hamilton comes on the eve of what might be the revealing of the largest discovery yet of unmarked graves of residential school victims.

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations announced on Twitter that “significantly substantial” remains have been found by the Cowessess First Nation at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School. Their findings will be revealed on Thursday (June 24).

Meantime, the issue of Hamilton’s statue will be a discussion item at the City of Hamilton’s next emergency services and community services committee meeting. That is not scheduled to take place until July 8.

Any discussion at that meeting would only be over whether to begin a review on whether any statues should be removed.

Assistance and emotional support for people affected by the discovery of the graves is available through the Indian Residential School Survivors Society toll-free at 1-800-721-0066. There is also a 24-hour crisis line at 1-866-925-4419.

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