AMC statement on the toppling of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II statues

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Assembly of Manitoba Grand Chief Arlen Dumas
Assembly of Manitoba Grand Chief Arlen Dumas

“What we saw yesterday was an expression of trauma and hurt”

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) issues this statement to clarify the toppling of the Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth statues at the Manitoba Legislature.

The AMC acknowledges the thousands of Manitobans who came together yesterday and joined First Nations citizens in a joint march between the AMC, Treaty One Nation, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) and Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO).

The peaceful march was an expression of solidarity and to make a statement on the current state of affairs of this country and its relationship with First Nations and other Indigenous peoples.

Grand Chief Arlen Dumas stated, “It was amazing to see thousands of Manitobans march alongside First Nations and our Indigenous cousins walking down Portage Avenue in a show of support and reconciliation and as acknowledgement of the colonial history of this country. Thank you to Manitobans who came out to show their support – something like this has never happened in Winnipeg before. The sea of orange in recognition of the IRS victims and survivors was incredibly empowering and a powerful demonstration of reconciliation between First Nations and Manitobans. I note that I was overcome with emotion as I rode along on horseback with everyone. I saw the lineups of Manitobans seemingly stuck in traffic allowing our march to go on safely. What was amazing, was that everyone was not frustrated, but instead, waving, beeping horns in support and waving orange flags. Every car that went by cheered us on. It was peaceful and beautiful.”

Grand Chief Dumas added, “A separate group from our march broke off from official march that went to the Peguis Urban Reserve at 1075 Portage, and went to the legislature to exercise their right to demonstrate and to tell government directly their views on the historical and ongoing impacts of colonialism on First Nations. I do not in any way condone the toppling of the statues, but I understand the symbolism of this and the triggered and frustrated mindset of those that participated. What we saw yesterday was an expression of trauma and hurt combined with a heightened awareness by a generation that will not accept the status quo.”

“I note that churches and statues can be replaced, but the lives of the ancestors, the victims of the MMIWG tragedy, the thousands of IRS students buried in unmarked graves, and the victims of lethal anti-indigenous racism cannot be. First Nations have permanently lost generations of thinkers, knowledge keepers, and Elders.”

“These events of yesterday, both the acts of reconciliation and acts of resistance, indicate that conversations need to continue and more work needs to be done to accelerate truth and reconciliation and the implementation of the TRC Calls to Action. Yesterday’s display of reconciliation and the expressions of frustration are signs that, while Canadians are beginning to understand the effects of the racist policies that underpin the current relationship with First Nations, there needs to be a strengthening of the relationship and the partnership between First Nations, Manitoba and Canada, that will ensure the peace and friendship envisioned by our ancestors as they made agreements and welcomed the newcomers to our ancestral territories. There will also continue to be elements that will actively work against reconciliation and we collectively have to unite to oppose these elements and to give meaningful expression to the sharing, peace and friendship principles on which our Treaties are built.”

“I note that I was pleased to have Minister Friesen and Minister Clarke reach out to myself immediately and set up a meeting today to begin to discuss how we can all move forward. I appreciate our open and honest discussion and the commitment from our allies to continue to work towards reconciliation. I note that the Winnipeg Police were in attendance yesterday at our peaceful march and want to commend the role they played in ensuring the safety of our peaceful demonstrators. Thank you to the officers, especially the ones who I noted were holding orange ribbons while they blocked traffic for our citizens. It was the culmination of all those who showed support, passion and patience, in a peaceful way, that truly spoke volumes. I encourage everyone, in this most triggering time, to proceed in a peaceful way.” concluded Grand Chief Dumas.