Bronze statue of colonial judge Matthew Begbie hauled away from New Westminster square that bears his name

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      New Westminster took a step toward reconciliation with First Nations this weekend by removing a statue of the "hanging judge" from the front of the courthouse.

      Matthew Begbie was B.C.'s first chief justice after the province joined Confederation in 1871.

      He acquired his nickname as a colonial jurist in the 1860s when he ordered the execution of six Tŝilhqot'in chiefs.

      Last November, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Chilcotin area and issued a formal apology for the hangings of the chiefs, who were defending their land during the Chicotin War. Former premier Christy Clark apologized in 2014 for the hangings.

      The chiefs have been exonerated of criminal wrongdoing by the federal and provincial governments.

      Six months after Trudeau's apology, New Westminster council voted 4-2 in favour of removing the bronze statue of Begbie as a gesture of goodwill to Indigenous people.

      The likeness of the judge was created by sculptor Ellek Imreddy and funded by lawyers and judges with the New Westminster Bar Association.  

      On July 6, Coun. Chuck Puchmayr videotaped the carting away of the sculpture, describing it as an "emotional event". 

      https://www.instagram.com/p/BzmCM3NBhDP

      The council vote in May was welcomed by the Tŝilhqot'in National Government.

      "From the Tŝilhqot'in perspective, Judge Begbie represents a legacy of betrayal, pain, and tragedy for our people," Chief Joe Alphonse said in a statement at the time. "Removing Judge Begbie's statue from public places does not remove him from history, but rather recognizes our history and our experience as Indigenous people.

      "We are grateful for the leadership shown by the New Westminster city council and for the understanding and compassion for our people that this decision reflects."

      The statue was in Begbie Square at the corner of Carnarvon and McKenzie streets.

      It's an urban park adjacent to the courthouse on the historic Market Square site.

      Begbie's name is also still on an elementary school at 1430 Lillooet Street in East Vancouver.

      Comments