Update: This post has been updated with additional details.
Another statue has been vandalized in Canada — this time in Edmonton.
The statue of former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill was vandalized with red paint in the city’s downtown core. Edmonton Police received a call Thursday morning about the defaced statue but could not provide additional information on when the statue was vandalized and by whom.
Churchill, who served as Britain’s prime minister during the Second World War and for another term afterwards, is widely heralded as a national hero. Despite his controversial statements on race, he is remembered mainly for rallying his armed forces against the Axis of Evil.
This comes weeks after the statue of Egerton Ryerson at Ryerson University was vandalized and toppled in early June. Its post-secondary administration stated it had no intent to replace or restore the statue.
Jon Dziadyk is the Ward 3 City Councillor on the North Side of Edmonton and the candidate for tastawiyiniwak in the upcoming municipal election. In a statement to The Post Millennial, he said he is disheartened to see Churchill’s statue vandalized like this.
As a Reserve member of the Canadian Armed Forces, he took the disrespect personally. “Churchill fought against Nazi Germany,” he said. “His dedication and determination are often cited as reasons for the Allied victory against pure evil.”
“Even today, we see swastikas in Edmonton.
“The battle against fascism is far from over, and I am outraged with the level of hate in today's society.”
Dziadyk urged for a civil debate on matters of history but made it clear that as soon as one side jumps to violence and destruction, they lose all credibility.
“The current generation sometimes forgets that it was through war and bloodshed that Canadians got their freedoms,” he said. “Had it not been for Churchill, the Nazis would have continued to spill the blood of innocent people.”
Dziadyk is calling on the City of Edmonton to take measures to prevent it from happening again.
The Edmonton Arts Council will be tasked with cleaning the statue.
Elisabeth Checkel, president of the Churchill Society of Edmonton, who aims to preserve and promote Churchill’s legacy, said she is also disappointed by the vandalism.
“At a time when our city is preparing to open up for summer activities after an enforced COVID hiatus, defacing this public monument affects the peaceful summer enjoyment of all Edmontonians,” she said.
The president of the Calgary chapter, Dr. Mark Milke, said the “cultural vandalism” is reprehensible but urges everyone to take this as a “good learning moment.”
“In the 20th-century, utopians looked ahead and wanted to create a perfect world in the future. We now have people alive today who look to the past and think the past and historical figures like Churchill should have been perfect,” he said.
Dr. Milke attributes we are in 2021 partly because of Churchill, who advocated a free and flourishing world. “It’s much easier to beat up on people that are long dead, who can't defend themselves or change their views,” he said.
He acknowledges that Churchill unquestionably held 19th-century views on race but argues had Churchill been alive today, the Churchill of 2021 would disagree with the Churchill of 1945.
"Identity politics is divisive and says to people that you're a victim of 50 or 100 years ago and are without any choices today. That is not true,” he said. “We're at this weird stage where people are not responsible for their own actions today, but we're all responsible for the sins of past ages.”
Citing Russian dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the dividing line between good and evil runs through each human heart. “We're all a mixed bag, but we have a shared humanity.”
The Churchill Society of Calgary intends to erect a similar statue next year without public funds. Edmonton sculptor Danek Mozdzenski is expected to complete a bust for the statue by July 2021, costing $300,000 total for its creation, placement and upkeep.