By John Swartz
It should come as no surprise demonstrations in the United States and in Canada regarding the treatment of Blacks by police has for some in Canada also put focus on long-standing Native issues and of course one of those is Orillia’s Champlain Monument.
It is a controversial subject, with many ill-informed opinions being voiced on both sides.
While it is true the circumstances about how the monument was conceived and executed are bad in 20/20 hindsight view, caught up in all of it is Champlain who was merely the first person to set eyes on Lake Couchiching who didn’t live here already. He was a visitor who came and went. Granted those who came afterward had different objectives, but all accounts of his visit are such it was cordial on both sides.
Some time late last week someone defaced the pedestal with red paint. On Canada Day a demonstration called Decolonize Orillia is planned at 3 p.m.
It is organized by Miranda Minassian. She set up a Facebook page and stated the purpose is to, “help send the message that this genocidal monument and everything it represents does NOT belong in our community’s recreational spaces.” The objective also states, “help take a stand against racism in the public spaces we all occupy, sending the message that we can move forward, leaving Canada’s White supremacist past where it belongs — in the past.”
Recently Parks Canada declared the reinstallation of the monument, minus the side sculpture pieces, would commence in mid-July and be finished by mid-August.
The demonstration has speakers Amanda Dale and others. There will be traditional Native ceremonies and activities for children.
(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia)