As sovereign Indigenous individuals and groups to this land, we give our gratitude and appreciation to Black Lives Matter and volunteers for the actions that took place in Toronto on the morning of July 18th, 2020. Black Lives Matter Toronto along with supporters, vividly improved three monuments including Egerton Ryerson, Sir John A. Macdonald, and King Edward VII by splashing beautiful pink paint across them and demanding the City of Toronto defund, disarm, dismantle and abolish the police. This “artistic disruption” of statues of perpetrators of enslavement and genocide shows the power of collective action and grassroots leadership. Each statue is a symbol of white supremacy and this was made explicit when community members were arrested, imprisoned, and denied legal counsel and medicine. We object to the criminalization of the people involved in this brave and peaceful action and call for the charges against them be dropped.
The statues of Egerton Ryerson, Sir John A. Macdonald and King Edward VII glorify colonization, genocide, enslavement and racism. These colonizers have created foundational policies in the settler colonial state of Canada, which continues to impact Indigenous peoples today. Egerton Ryerson played a role in the development of the genocidal Indian Residential School System, the profoundly damaging repercussions of which are still felt today. Sir John A. Macdonald was a white supremacist whose genocidal policies sought to eradicate Indigenous people and intentionally starved Indigenous people on the prairies. As the first prime minister, he helped to create the Indian Act and write Indian policy which would justify colonization, land theft, and violence. King Edward VII was a colonial ruler in Europe, who assisted in colonization in India and other dominions of the era. The statue originally stood in Delhi, India but was removed after independence and relocated to Toronto. These statues uphold oppressive ideologies that directly harm Black and Indigenous people, and we refuse to let these symbols stand in our city unchallenged.
When Canada began violating our lands and bodies for endless resource extraction, we were not expected to survive the brutal genocide. While we continued to survive, residential schools were designed to assimilate our children into Euro-Canadian society by robbing them of their Indigenous identities, languages, culture, and traditions. Not all of our people survived the residential school system, and many of those who did suffered unimaginable abuse for being Indigenous people. Colonial statues are stark reminders that white supremacy continues to be celebrated. These systems of oppression condition us to believe we should accept colonial violence in all its forms, including racist statues protected by the police today. Black Lives Matter has given us hope that we are supported and that the ongoing state and police violence will be dismantled with the help of our community.
We therefore thank them for their work, actions, and solidarity.