Statues of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II were toppled at the Manitoba legislature on Thursday afternoon by a large group of Every Child Matters protestors wearing orange shirts. People cheered and waved their fists in the air as the statue of Queen Victoria came down.
The statue was covered in red paint, with red hand prints across the base. Onlookers were joyous as the statue toppled to the ground. They chanted in a call and response "every child matters," "no pride in genocide," and "take her down," according to CTV News.
An Every Child Matters walk ended at the legislative grounds when its participants toppled the statues. The statue of Queen Victoria was coated in red paint with red handprints at the base. Signs read "We were children once. Bring them home," in memory of Indigenous children sent to residential schools.
The statue of Queen Elizabeth also came down during the protest. Children and adults participated in the event.
A report from the Department of Anthropology at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont. states at least 3,213 children were reported to have died at the 150 residential schools that operated throughout Canada.
The Queen Victoria statue was commissioned in 1904. The monarch reigned over Canada when treaties were first negotiated with First Nations, and the federal government adopted the residential school system as policy.
The report indicates that some students died at the schools, while other seriously ill children were returned home, or admitted to hospitals where they may have later died.
"Some of the deceased were returned to their families for burial, but most others were likely buried in cemeteries on school grounds, or in nearby church, reserve or municipal cemeteries," said Dr. Scott Hamilton. "We have no clear sense of the relative frequency with which these alternatives were employed, nor how circumstances varied with Church policy, through time, or across geography and political jurisdiction."
Hamilton wrote that while some graves and cemeteries associated with the residential schools are known and are still maintained, others are now unknown or incompletely documented in the literature, and may even have passed from local memory.
"Some burial places are within or near old school grounds, but few seem to have been formally identified and designated by the provincial and territorial agencies responsible for cemetery regulation," he said. "Many of these inactive and overgrown cemeteries are not readily identifiable and are not maintained."
104 unmarked graves were uncovered in June on the grounds of the Brandon Indian Residential School. Sioux Valley Dakota Nation has tried to identify unmarked graves for years through survivor accounts and archival documents.