Statues of Britain's Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II were torn down outside Manitoba province's legislature in Winnipeg on Canada Day on Thursday.
Queen Victoria, who was monarch during the colonial era, was left covered in red-painted handprints with a sign that read: “We were children once. Bring them home”, while a smaller statue of Britain's current Queen, Elizabeth II, was draped in yellow rope.
It came as thousands joined the ‘Every Child Matters’ walk in the streets of Winnipeg to honour the Indigenous children who died and were buried at colonial Christian schools.
Many cities had scrapped the traditional Canada Day celebrations in the wake of the gruesome discoveries of nearly 1,000 unmarked graves at three residential schools in Saskatchewan and British Columbia since the end of May.
The latest discovery was made on Wednesday, June 30, when 182 graves were found at the former residential school St. Eugene’s Mission in Cranbrook, British Columbia.
The schools were designed to convert the children to Christianity and at the same time erase their own indigenous culture.
They were known to be unsanitary and badly heated and the teachers physically and sexually abused the children.
Since the first discovery, calls had grown to cancel Canada Day altogether and protesters were wearing orange instead of the usual Canada Day colours red and white.