Regina city council votes to put John A. Macdonald statue into storage

Regina city council has decided to remove the John A. Macdonald statue currently located in Victoria Park and put it in storage until a new location is found.

Council voted 7-4 to approve the move on Wednesday.

The move means the statue will be put in storage for a maximum of one year, and will be relocated to a location determined by council.

“We’re not interested in erasing history, this is not cancel culture. We are interested in putting it in a place of education and respect for contributions to history, as well as some of the legacy, which are perhaps negative for our community,” Regina Mayor Sandra Masters said. 

Until that decision is made, city administration is expected to consult with the public about the best location for the statue and any signage that is needed near it.

At the council meeting Wednesday, numerous delegates suggested the statue be put in a museum, moved behind the Legislative Building or moved to the RCMP Heritage Centre. It was also suggested the statue should have a plaque explaining the history of Macdonald, and his influence on confederation and Indigenous policies.

Gillis Lavalley and John Hopkins with Reconciliation Regina said the monument shouldn't be destroyed, but it could be moved to several different areas.

Hopkins said the statue reminds many of the actions that impacted Indigenous people and he's heard people say the statue causes them too much pain to come downtown.

Lavalley said removing the statue from the park is a chance for a success story for people who suffered under Macdonald's policies.

Conservative Senator Denise Batters said the statue is an enduring symbol of confederation in Canada and should stay in the park. She said removing it would be trying to erase Canada’s history and instead suggested more should be added to the statue in the park, like a plaque explaining some of the policies Macdonald was responsible for.

“We cannot and should not erase our history, but we should add to it and we should give it full context, whether that is through additional interpretations or by adding other artworks or monuments to that particular site in Victoria Park,” Sen. Batters said.

Councillors Bob Hawkins and Lori Bresciani argued there wasn't enough consultation with the broader Regina community and suggested the statue remain in its current spot until a new location is found. Both feared if the statue was put in storage, it may be forgotten about and never be brought back out.

Administration said consultation was done with groups most harmed by the statue and the next step is to do broader communication with the public. 

DEWDNEY AND MAPLE LEAF POOLS RENAMING

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, council approved the renaming of Dewdney Pool to Buffalo Meadows Pool. Council decided it would not change the name of Maple Leaf Pool.

Two delegates presented their thoughts on renaming Dewdney Pool, they said Dewdney Park and Dewdney Ave. should also be renamed. The pair argued the locations should not be named after Edgar Dewdney because of his role in establishing the residential school system in Saskatchewan. Masters said administration is expected to review the naming of Dewdney Ave.

Council decided to adjourn the meeting at 7 p.m., and will discuss the remaining items on the agenda at its next meeting on April 14.