Statue of late Queen at Queen’s Park draws mixed reviews

A statue of the late Queen Elizabeth II is drawing mixed reaction at Queen's Park. Richard Southern with the price tag for taxpayers and the response from Indigenous communities.

By Richard Southern and Mike Visser

The province has unveiled a bronze statue of Queen Elizabeth II outside Queen’s Park, but there is disagreement over whether the monument was worth the money or even appropriate in the first place.

“This beautiful bronze statue pays tribute to her late Majesty’s contribution to Ontario’s history and heritage,” said Premier Doug Ford during the unveiling ceremony.

The statue cost taxpayers $1.5 million. Given the monarchy’s links to colonialism, some Indigenous leaders believe the money would be better spent elsewhere.

The statue depicts the late-Queen in 1977 as she was speaking to the Canadian senate. Her head is cast slightly to the left, watching everyone as they enter Queen’s Park. That includes NDP Deputy Leader Sol Mamakwa, who is a survivor of Canada’s residential school system.

“These statues belong in the museum,” said Mamakwa. “I think over the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, was a time when we lost our children, our ancestors through the residential school system, and she did nothing.”

“I think putting a statue at Queen’s Park, that’s your history, that’s their history, but we have our own history.”

Chief R. Donald Maracle of the Mohwaks of the Bay of Quinte was among those participating in Tuesday’s ceremony. While he admits there are great needs in his community, he does support the bronze likeness of the former Queen.

“It’s the right thing to do the honour someone’s life, particularly when they served in a public role for 70 years,” said Maracle. “There are historic obligations which the Crown must fulfill. We’re still working through with reconciliation to ensure that happens so that our people aren’t the poorest people in the land or the most disadvantaged because of the impacts of colonialism.”

During the ceremony, Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor said one of the first conversations she had with Queen Elizabeth II centred around the path to reconciliation.

“Like all historical statues, it asks us to think about the relationship between the present and the past,” said Elizabeth Dowdeswell. “For me, when I look up at this statue, on this land covered by Treaty 13, I reflect on the role of the Crown and on its relationships with Indigenous peoples, a relationship that stretches back for hundreds of years, and one that her Majesty took very seriously.”

The remainder of the cost of the statue was raised through private donors, who see value in having a permanently likeness of Canada’s longest-serving monarch.

“I donated out of respect for the Queen, the Crown and to help leave a nice legacy for the community,” said Jordan, who donated an undisclosed amount of money to the project.

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