Queen Victoria statue vandalized at B.C. legislature

The bronze sculpture by Irish artist Albert Bruce-Joy has stood outside the Parliament Buildings for a century

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      A statue of the monarch whose name graces B.C.'s capital city is the subject of a police investigation.

      Around 2:30 p.m. on Friday (June 11), a group of people dumped red paint on the base of a four-metre bronze sculpture of Queen Victoria.

      The words "LAND BACK" were written within the blotches of red paint.

      According to Victoria police, the statue was vandalized during an antilogging protest on the lawn of the B.C. legislature.

      The statue was commissioned by a former premier, Richard McBride, and was completed by Irish artist Albert Bruce-Joy in 1914. It was unveiled on the north side of the B.C. legislature in 1921 by the governor general, Victor Christian William Cavendish, a.k.a. the Duke of Devonshire.

      The defacing of Queen Victoria's statue came in the same week that Toronto protesters dragged down a statue of Egerton Ryerson, a key architect of the Indian residential school program.

      Last year, Royal Roads University president Philip Steenkamp created a video offering perspective on the growing chorus of criticism over statues honouring colonial figures.

      Steenkamp, who was a historian before becoming a senior civil servant and university administrator, disagrees with those who argue that anti-statue demonstrators are somehow erasing history.

      "Statues are not history lessons," Steenkamp said. "They are meant to shape our perception of history for particular purposes—usually to reinforce the existing order and the position of the rich and powerful.

      "A statue is not a history of lesson. It's a way of celebrating, venerating, or honouring someone."

      Royal Roads University president Philip Steenkamp said in this 2020 video that a statue is not a history lesson.

      Moreover, Steenkamp maintained that statues are a part of history, rather than objects that serve to record history.

      "We don't need statues of Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco to remember them and their history of brutality," Steenkamp says. "The city of Berlin doesn't remember its history with statues of Nazis but rather with monuments to their victims."