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

Two of Chemainus photographer Marston’s images picked among National Geographic’s 2018 elite

Rare double honour from the 36 best Your Shots out of nearly 19,000 photos

Strong winds up to 100 km/h for parts of Vancouver Island

Wind warning in effect for north, east and west Vancouver Island into Saturday morning

Prolific offender arrested in “dynamic takedown” in Crofton

Lower Mainland man facing at least six charges

Swing Shift an enthusiastic collection of professional and amateur musicians

School visits by the band keeping the jazz tradition alive with young people

Self serve doggy-wash poised to change dog grooming industry

Add money, start spraying to wash dog in the K9000

Burnaby byelection turmoil sparks debate about identity issues in politics

The Liberals still have not said whether they plan to replace Wang, who stepped aside Wednesday

B.C. woman planned to donate a kidney to her husband, then found out she has cancer

Richard Stuart needs a kidney, his wife Tracy has been diagnosed with cancer

Rookie Demko backstops Canucks to 4-3 win over Sabres

Young Vancouver goalie makes 36 saves to turn away Buffalo

Charges upgraded against mother of murdered B.C. girl

Kerryann Lewis now faces first- rather than second-degree murder in the death of Aaliyah Rosa.

UPDATE: Injured firefighter in stable condition

Kelowna fire crews responded to a blaze at Pope’sGallery of BC Art & Photography on Friday

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Arrest made after historic B.C. church hit by arson

The fire at the 150-year-old Murray United Church in Merritt was considered a possible hate crime

B.C. dangerous offender in court for violating no-contact order, sends letter to victim

Wayne Belleville was shocked to see a letter addressed to him from his shooter, Ronald Teneycke

Most Read