Video shows protestors destroying memorial for residential school victims

A video captured by CTV News shows two protestors destroying a memorial on the Saskatchewan Legislative Building steps. The memorial honoured children who died in residential schools.

The footage shows two protestors, who were later seen holding signs against vaccines and COVID-19 public health measures, shovelling the memorial into a garbage bag.

A Wascana Centre Community Safety Officer is later seen taking the bag away.

Residential school survivor Brenda Dubois said she was heartbroken to see the video.

“The first reaction is hurt. I could say anger, but anger is too easy nowadays,” Dubois said.

She was part of the group that put hundreds of backpacks on the steps of the Legislature this past summer, to mark the discovery of unmarked graves found at former residential schools sites.

“This whole thing was covered [with backpacks]. And all we left was a little tiny space. And (the protestors) wouldn’t even give us that honour of just that little tiny space. By removing it, they’re still saying, ‘Forget this. Move on,’” she said.

Others were quick to condemn the actions of the two protestors.

“It was disgusting, it was arrogant and it was hateful,” said Aleana Young, an NDP MLA.

“I hesitate to comment on their state of mind or why they would do that,” said Ryan Meili, leader of the NDP. “But, simply put, it wasn’t their place and it was the wrong thing to do.”

In an emailed statement, the provincial government also denounced the removal of the memorial.

“Premier Moe strongly condemns these actions, and has noted that these are the same protestors responsible for several idiotic actions over the past several months,” the government said in a statement

The statement goes on to say a Wascana Centre Community Safety Officer retrieved the items put in a garbage bag and they will be returned to the steps of the legislative building to continue the memorial.

Dubois said she still questions why the protestors weren’t stopped from taking the items in the first place.

“But, we decide now to focus on healing,” Dubois said. “So I pray that yes, people do bring some shoes back, to replace the visual memory, that hurt still exists today. It is not historical.”

CTV News connected with the man in the video but he declined an interview.

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If you are a residential school survivor in distress, or have been affected by the residential school system and need help, you can contact the 24-hour Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419