John Dann (second from left) as he placed the his sculpture of John A. Macdonald in front of Victoria’s City Hall in 1981. File contributed

John A. Macdonald sculptor says B.C. city is doing reconciliation wrong

John Dann created the sculpture in 1981, and recently found out about Victoria’s plan to remove it

The creator of the controversial John A. Macdonald sculpture, slated for removal from Victoria’s City Hall on Saturday, is speaking up.

John Dann was commissioned to create the sculpture in 1981 by the John A. Macdonald Society of Vancouver. At the time of the commission, most Canadians didn’t know about residential schools, or the more sinister characteristics of Canada’s first Prime Minister, but Dann said that simply plucking the statue away from City Hall isn’t the right way to deal with the dark sides of history.

“I don’t like the idea of it being done so quickly, it seems there was a quick reaction,” he said. “It’s a very small step of reconciliation… I think over the last 100 years or so we’ve treated the natives horribly. We’ve stolen everything from them and we should somehow make amends and come together with them.”

RELATED: Victoria to remove Sir John A. Macdonald statue from City Hall

The City announced they would remove the statue on Wednesday, and Dann found out about the removal from friends on Thursday. It prompted him to write a letter to Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, where he wrote that “if my sculpture can engender a discussion about violence inflicted on Native Peoples, then frankly, I am honoured. I am not sure that removing the sculpture is the best way to accomplish this… I would have preffered to have been able to be there to exchange ideas with those who wish it removed.”

Dann said that Macdonald was a complex character, with many flaws and many accomplishments, but at the end of the day his sculpture wasn’t meant to simply embody him.

“I’d like people to realize it’s not John A. Macdonald. It’s a peice of art, like a symphony surrounding John A. Macdonald, surrounding Canada, and surrounding how we got here,” he said “I’m offended by John we’re all offended, we don’t want to be like that… but I think the sculpture addresses a lot of issues; you see vulnerability. Do they think we’re picking off a scab? I don’t know.”

LETTER: Sir John A. Macdonald’s role in residential schools

Dann said he didn’t want to stand in the way of the removal, but didn’t think it should be hidden either. He likened it to a boy stealing a paint brush and hiding it behind his back, and denying that it was there.

“Canada needs to address its past horrific treatment of natives, it should be forefront and it’s not. I know there’s a great deal of racism still across the country,” he said. “If we removed the sculpture, we’re not removing that attitude.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter
and Instagram

Just Posted

Every vote counts: 10 tightest races in B.C.’s municipal elections

Peachland saw their election decided by just one vote

Early morning crash in Surrey on Sunday sends three to hospital

Traffic crash at 4 a.m. at 152nd and 88th Avenue. Police say intersection closed for “some time.”

Two-vehicle collision in South Surrey

Firefighters on scene at 24 Avenue and 160 Street

RCMP ask for help locating missing woman

Sheyna McNabb was last seen near King George and 96th Ave. in Surrey

Photos: Great Pumpkin Run takes place at White Rock waterfront

Families dressed in Halloween costumes for annual event

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

Vancouver drag queens receive royal treatment during Kootenay Pride

Vancouver drag queens discuss the importance of Pride and growing acceptance of LGBTQ community

B.C. VIEWS: Residents have had enough of catering to squatters

Media myth of homeless victims offends those who know better

B.C. man sets new Canadian marathon record at Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Cam Levins ran it in two hours nine minutes 25 seconds

B.C. Liberals’ hopes high as Nanaimo by-election approaches

Historically safe NDP seat vacated by long-time MLA Leonard Krog

Leaving B.C.’s electoral reform to a referendum is ‘ridiculous’: professor

B.C. voters getting ballots in the mail on proposal to change electoral system

Canada condemns killing of journalist in Saudi Arabia consulate in Turkey

The Saudi government claimed Jamal Khashoggi was killed in a ‘fistfight’

One year to election: Trudeau Liberals gear up for tussles on climate, premiers

Analysts say that the Liberals have reason to be ‘fairly confident’

GUEST COLUMN: B.C.’s proportional representation vote is dishonest, misleading

Veteran of 2005 Citizens’ Assembly urges rejection of new voting systems

Most Read