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June 7, 2023
Treaty One Territory, Manitoba – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) expresses disappointment as the province re-erects the statue of Queen Elizabeth II, which had previously been toppled at the Legislative building. The province estimated that it would cost up to $500,000.00 to replace it. A decision was made to proceed, and it has since been vandalized with spray paint reading “Colonizer” and “Killer.”
In 2021, the provincial Government committed to creating a monument to honour the Peguis Selkirk Treaty, the first agreement between the Crown and First Nations in western Canada. This past February, the Minister of Government Services, James Teitsma, reiterated in a press conference that they would be unveiling a monument honouring Chief Peguis and the four other signatory chiefs of the Selkirk Treaty: Chief Mache Wheseab, Chief Mechkaddewikonaie, Chief Kayajieskebinoa and Chief Ouckidoat. They anticipate the monument to be unveiled in 2024.
“At this time, First Nations citizens are still actively seeking healing from the wounds of colonization and genocide inflicted by residential schools and by replacing the Queen Elizabeth II statue as quickly as this before erecting one that honours the history of First Nations in this province, shows a lack of commitment to reconciliation and accountability by this province,” said Grand Chief Cathy Merrick, “There was no consultation, prior notice, or acknowledgement from the provincial government that this would be happening, which is upsetting. This disregards the sentiments expressed during National Indigenous Peoples Day in 2021 when thousands marched through Winnipeg to honour First Nations children buried at numerous residential schools in unmarked graves.”
First Nations leaders and survivors of residential schools had previously called on Queen Elizabeth II to apologize for the Crown’s complicit and ongoing role in colonial oppression. This would be an opportunity for the Crown, Canada, and Manitoba to demonstrate a genuine commitment to reconciliation.
The replacement of the Queen Elizabeth II statue, without warning, perpetuates the painful legacy of Canadian colonialism. Originally, the government of Manitoba intended to build a space for public gatherings, which could have provided a step toward healing and reconciliation. However, by re-erecting the statue commemorating Queen Elizabeth II, that hurt has been extended.
” A province representative confirmed that it cost $60,000 to re-erect this statue, which was vandalized shortly after it was replaced this past weekend. By utilizing this money meaningfully, First Nations citizens could have had a place created to come together, a step towards reconciliation and a tangible act that could facilitate further healing,” said Grand Chief Cathy Merrick. “This should become a monument that recognizes and honours the contributions from First Nations of this region in the development of this province that represents the Treaty relationship we share.”
Despite government assurances to erect a monument honouring the Peguis Selkirk Treaty and the Chiefs who brought it to fruition, the replacement of the Queen’s statue, without consulting with First Nations, demonstrates a glaring lack of respect and commitment to the principles of reconciliation.
“Today, the AMC calls upon the province to honour its commitment to Truth and Reconciliation by fulfilling its duty to engage in genuine consultation with First Nations before proceeding with any decisions regarding the continued replacement of Queen Elizabeth II’s statue. To correct this misguided course of action, the province must acknowledge the significant role this matter plays in the healing process of First Nations citizens. The AMC stands unwavering in its dedication to advocating for justice, healing, and the rights of First Nations Peoples as we strive for a future where all communities can flourish in harmony and mutual respect.” Grand Chief Cathy Merrick concluded.
For more information, please contact:
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
About the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
The AMC was formed in 1988 by the Chiefs in Manitoba to advocate on issues that commonly affect First Nations in Manitoba. AMC is an authorized representative of 62 of the 63 First Nations in Manitoba with a total of more than 151,000 First Nation citizens in the province, accounting for approximately 12 percent of the provincial population. AMC represents a diversity of Anishinaabe (Ojibway), Nehetho / Ininew (Cree), Anishininew (Ojibwe-Cree), Denesuline (Dene) and Dakota Oyate (Dakota) people.