Top News

Native Council of P.E.I. upset City of Charlottetown hasn't consulted it yet about controversial statue

Lisa Cooper, president and chief of the Native Council of P.E.I., says her organization has not been involved in consultations yet with the City of Charlottetown on the Sir John A. Macdonald bench statue.
Lisa Cooper, president and chief of the Native Council of P.E.I., says her organization has not been involved in consultations yet with the City of Charlottetown on the Sir John A. Macdonald bench statue. - Dave Stewart
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

The president and chief of the Native Council of P.E.I. says her organization is disheartened at not being included in discussions over a controversial piece of art in Charlottetown.

Lisa Cooper is referring to the ongoing debate over the Sir John A. Macdonald bench statue on Victoria Row, which has been the target of vandalism on more than one occasion this year following the deaths of two Indigenous people in New Brunswick at the hands of police.

Lisa Cooper, president and chief of the Native Council of P.E.I., says her organization is upset that it hasn’t been involved in consultations yet with the City of Charlottetown on the Sir John A. Macdonald bench statue. - Dave Stewart
Lisa Cooper, president and chief of the Native Council of P.E.I., says her organization is upset that it hasn’t been involved in consultations yet with the City of Charlottetown on the Sir John A. Macdonald bench statue. - Dave Stewart

 

Charlottetown city council voted in June on a resolution to keep the statue where it is but added there will be discussions with the appropriate stakeholders to determine best steps forward to recognize that the full story be told.

According to the resolution, those stakeholders are identified as the Native Council of P.E.I., the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I. and L’nuey.

A meeting was held with the confederacy and L’nuey.

"We are never consulted on any issue with this province or this municipality. This pattern has to change if you’re looking at reconciliation. Do we not matter? Are we invisible? What is the issue with having us at the table?"

Coun. Kevin Ramsay, chairman of the sub-committee tasked with these consultations, said Thursday they are still waiting for input from the confederacy and L’nuey.

“We weren’t invited to that meeting," said Cooper. “We sent an email asking why we were not consulted. This seems to be a pattern of the provincial government and this municipality that ... the only opinions that count are First Nation (people) on reserves and the confederacy."

Coun. Kevin Ramsay - Contributed
Coun. Kevin Ramsay - Contributed

 

 

Cooper added that her organization represents the interests of 1,050 off-reserve Indigenous Islanders who also pay taxes.

“Yet we are never consulted on any issue with this province or this municipality. This pattern has to change if you’re looking at reconciliation. Do we not matter? Are we invisible? What is the issue with having us at the table?"

Ramsay said his sub-committee is in the process of setting up a meeting with the Native Council of P.E.I.

“In June, council voted 10-0 to keep the statue in place and bring stakeholders together to determine best steps forward to recognize the full story," Ramsay said. “A meeting was held with L’nuey and the Mi’kmaq Confederacy (of P.E.I.) and, as per the resolution of council, a meeting will need to be scheduled with the Native Council as well. We continue to wait for further input on what can be done at the site."

City workers clean off red paint dumped on the John A. Macdonald statue on June 19.  - Stu Neatby
City workers clean off red paint dumped on the John A. Macdonald statue on June 19. - Stu Neatby

 

Rather than wait, the Native Council of P.E.I. posted a survey on its Facebook page and website a few months ago. More than 300 people responded and, of the responses, ith 75 respondents identifying as Indigenous. Fifty-two per cent of Indigenous respondents say the city should get rid of the statue and 62 per cent of non-Indigenous people agree.

Cooper said the survey also shows that 84 per cent of total respondents feel the Native Council of P.E.I. should have been consulted from the start.

She said the fact they haven’t been part of the process yet is telling.

“It’s the city and the mayor saying we don’t recognize you."


Survey says:

Following are the results of a survey the Native Council of P.E.I. had completed on the controversy around the Sir John A. Macdonald statue in Charlottetown:

  • 334 responded to the online survey.
  • 75 of respondents identify as Indigenous.
  • 52 per cent of the Indigenous people who completed the survey want statue removed.
  • 45 per cent of the Indigenous people recommend leaving the statue but adding a plaque to tell the full story, including Macdonald’s role in the residential school system.
  • Three per cent of the Indigenous people said leave the statue as is.
  • 62 per cent of the non-Indigenous people who completed the survey want statue removed.
  • 35 per cent of the non-Indigenous people say leave the statue in place but add an educational plaque to tell the full story.
  • 84 per cent of all respondents say the Native Council of P.E.I. should have been consulted by the City of Charlottetown from the start.

Twitter.com/DveStewart

RELATED:

Did this story inform or enhance your perspective on this subject?
1 being least likely, and 10 being most likely

Recent Stories