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 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

City of Victoria

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cyclists checked out the 216th interchange crossing the night before it opened to motor vehicles in early September, 2020. The overpass has separated bike lanes for riders. (Mitchell Nurse/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Langley overpass wins cycling infrastructure award

HUB Cycling handed out the award to the Township and province recently

A model of the planned Salishan Place centre was displayed at a Fort public information session in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
$711,000 tourism grant goes to Langley arts and culture centre

Salishan Place by the River is a planned Aboriginal arts lodge and cultural centre

A retail cannabis outlet in Aldergrove got its final rezoning approval on Feb. 22. (Black Press Media File)
Aldergrove cannabis shop gets rezoning approval – barely

Council voted twice after narrowly defeating the project the first time

Aldergrove Regional Park will be home to a child-friendly nature gnome tour in March. (Special to The Star)
Aldergrove Regional Park home to gnome-guided tours for children

Families can sign up for nature-themed events happening throughout spring break in March

Site C will go ahead, one year later and $5.3 billion more, the NDP announced Feb 26. (BC Hydro image)
B.C. to go ahead with Site C dam, with new $16B budget and delayed to 2025

Reviews recommend more oversight, beefed up foundation stability work

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Framed photos of Travis Selje and other items fill the top of a dresser in his bedroom. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Crown says defence case epilepsy caused fatal Surrey crash fails on balance of probabilities

‘She very clearly had some form of control over that vehicle,’ Crown argues

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives to view the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Death threats mount against Dr. Bonnie Henry, sparking condemnation from Horgan, Dix

Henry has become a staple on televisions in homes across British Columbia since January 2020

Bryan Adams with his mom, Jane Adams Clark, at Lions Gate Hospital. (Bryan Adams)
Bryan Adams gives shout out to North Shore hospital

The singer’s mom was in Lions Gate Hospital for care

Shoppers will be able to get their hands on signed bottles of Ryan Reynolds’ new gin at B.C. liquor stores this summer. (Twitter/Ryan Reynolds)
Ryan Reynold’s Aviation Gin autographed and coming to B.C. stores

This summer 100 bottles will be available to the public for purchase across five B.C. liquor stores

Most Read