‘Where’s Champlain’s Statue?’

The one-sided rewriting of Canadian history…
“The re-installation of the Samuel de Champlain statue as part of Orillia, Ont.’s Couchiching Beach Park monument has been postponed, ‘Parks Canada’ announced… The re-installation’s deferment will allow for progress of the implementation of the recommendations that were put forward by the monument’s working group, which formed in 2018…

“The re-installation plan is being deferred following more consultation and decision-making regarding the future ‘interpretation’ and representation of the ‘First Nations’ {‘Aboriginal’} story {But it’s about Champlain, not Aboriginals}, with the goal of honouring the past within the context of ‘contemporary knowledge’ and ‘wisdom’.” 

“In July 2019, the monument’s working group, comprised of representatives from ‘First Nations’, ‘Parks Canada’, Ontario’s {Left-wing} elementary teachers’ union and Orillia, released a report of recommendations regarding the monument.
{Note the absence of any historians…}

“The four recommendations set out by the working group last year called for the central figure of Samuel de Champlain to be re-installed immediately {!}; however, for the ‘First Nations’, missionary and fur trader statues, which were a part of the original monument, to be subject to further consultation with ‘First Nations’ {Why not historians?}.

“The recommendations also called for the text on the monument’s plaque to be ‘updated’ so that it will “honour {subvert} the original intent within the context of contemporary knowledge and wisdom” and that additional pieces or signs be implemented to tell a ‘historically accurate’ story of Samuel de Champlain and his relationship to ‘First Nations’.

“‘Parks Canada’ says ‘Phase 2’ of the consultation process for the Samuel de Champlain monument will be reconvened in the coming weeks. Minor cleaning will also take place at the site in the coming days to remove paint from the stairs.”

–‘Re-installation of Samuel de Champlain statue postponed in Orillia, Ont.’,
Daina Goldfinger Global News, July 24, 2020

Protest at the site of the Champlain Monument. (Dave Dawson-OrilliaMatters)

“News of ‘Parks Canada’s decision to defer the return of the Champlain Monument to Couchiching Beach Park is getting some mixed reactions… The statue was removed in 2017 for repairs and restoration. Since then, there has been growing opposition to its return {? Evidence?}.

“The working group released a list of recommendations last year, one being

that additional interpretive signage/pieces be developed and created with the participation of First Nations representatives to tell a ‘historically accurate’ {Oral history is NOT “historically accurate”} story of Samuel de Champlain and his relationship with ‘First Nations’ {‘Aboriginal tribes’}.”

“Jeff Monague, an educator and ‘knowledge keeper’ from Beausoleil ‘First Nation’ {a ‘nation’ of 2,850 people}, feels that ‘educational component’ can be added without the main statue.

“I’d rather see the story being depicted without the monument {Then do YOUR OWN thing!}. You don’t need the monument to that individual”,
he said, noting such statues — or even petroglyphs — have not been priorities of ‘Indigenous’ peoples “because there was no hierarchy”.
{? Utter nonsense…}

“Besides, he added,

it’s always been kind of strange to try to understand why and how a predominantly English community would be so bent on honouring the father of New France.”

{Why? Are you a bigot? Do you think everybody else is? Are you not aware that Canada was founded by two peoples, French and English? Such ahistorical ignorance from a so-called ‘educator’…}

“He is hopeful the ‘updated’ monument will ‘accurately’ tell the history from the ‘Indigenous’ {sic} perspective, since ‘reconciliation’ includes a need to acknowledge “past harms” and indicate how they will be addressed going forward.

“Miranda Minassian {“Orillia resident Miranda Minassian is not ‘Indigenous’ but identifies as a ‘person of colour’.” {!?!}}, who organized a rally July 1 to protest the monument’s return, is “happy that the statue isn’t going back up this summer”, but she still doesn’t want to see it back. For her, the monument is a painful reminder.

Every day, it is a reminder that white is right, white is on top, and the rest of us are beneath“,

said Minassian. Minassian says the monument shows the ‘racist history of Canada’ and colonization, and how that has bled into ‘systemic racism’ {This propaganda is what she was taught in school!}.

I don’t think a deferral is the leadership that either ‘First Nations’ or ‘people of colour’ {A racist term for non-‘white’} were looking for. We were looking for more leadership from our elected officials”,
she said…

“Returning the monument, Minassian added, would be

a massive minimization of the eruption of minorities screaming to be heard”.
{Hysterical nonsense…}

That is a monument to ‘genocide’ {?}. It doesn’t allow people to move forward”,
she said.

“She did credit Simcoe North {fake-‘Conservative’} MP Bruce Stanton for raising the issue with ‘Parks Canada’. After attending the July 1 demonstration, Stanton said he contacted the office of the ministry responsible for Parks Canada to ask if it was “a good idea” to return the monument at this time. As a result, Stanton said, ‘Parks Canada’ reached out to members of the working group, including representatives from Rama ‘First Nation’ {a ‘nation’ of 2,002 people}, the Huron-Wendat ‘Nation’ {Quebec – a ‘nation’ of 4,257 people} and the City of Orillia, to discuss the matter.

“He said the goal is to not deviate from the initial recommendations, other than the call to have the Champlain figure itself returned “immediately{!}. It will give the working group more time to discuss the additional components…

“Mayor Steve Clarke, a member of the working group, is in favour of the monument being returned and is also supportive of additional components that explain the ‘Indigenous’ perspective and history.

“The placement of the ‘Indigenous’ people on the original monument, with them situated below Champlain and a Jesuit priest, is “a problem”, he said…

{They are still wards of the state in the segregationist Canadian Constitution. Why not try dealing with that?}

In the end, what really matters is we get the whole story, stretching back 5,000 years”,
{That’s not possible…}
he said…

“It’s not yet known when the working group will convene, but Clarke said members are hoping to meet “imminently”.”

–‘Decision to delay return of Champlain Monument gets mixed reviews’,
Nathan Taylor, Orillia Matters, July 24, 2020

COMMENT: “The monument was never intended to tell a story about our first nation history. The committee of community leaders worked for more than ten years to install one of the finest monuments in Canada. They included four “larger than life” natives out of respect and went to a great deal of trouble to make sure the artist got it right. To tear down or change the monument shows a disrespect to the leaders who built our community and the many art experts from across the country who were involved. Did you know that Chief Ovide Sioui from Lorrette, Quebec attended the opening as a guest of the president of the C.P.R? During the monument unveiling, he shook the hand of the sculptor Vernon Marche? Learn your history and add to it if you like but don’t destroy what we have.”
“It is true that the “educational component can be added without the main statue“, but it is also true that there is educational value in returning the statue as it is. Truth and Reconciliation is not a one-way street; the ‘Indigenous’ population does not hold a monopoly on truth. We should not be trading colonial truths for ‘indigenous’ truths for both sides are biased, both failing to accurately reflect the views of the other side. Return the statue in its original form. Present the sculptor’s story, which intended to honour not only Champlain but the ‘indigenous’ population, as well. Present the ‘indigenous’ views on the matter, as well as the French positions from both the Political and Religious perspectives… Maybe those who are screaming to be heard need to quietly listen to the voices from all sides from the past.”
“The crazies will just vandalize it. It’s too bad because it does tell some history…and really it is an impressive work of art. You will never get 100% agreement and there are too many consultations with those with a different agenda not related enough to Champlain.”
There is no doubt that a statue to a world explorer who crossed the ocean to North America over 20 times, which was no small accomplishment in that day, and that mapped and explored our shores, should be celebrated. It does not matter to me whether they were ‘Indigenous’, Vikings, French, Spanish, ‘Black’, ‘Brown’ or whatever. It is a point in history. There is nothing to stop people from raising funds and finding artists for creating other pieces of art or statues to celebrate an event or people they wish to celebrate. I feel it is wrong to eliminate pieces of our history.”
“Until recently, two of the major works of Vernon March existed in Canada: The National War Memorial in Ottawa, and the Champlain Monument in Orillia…, now there is one. What is particularly troubling is that the history of Champlain should be a jumping off point for discussion of how his desire for collaboration and cooperation with the indigenous population was derailed, and replaced by later policies that ultimately led to many of the worst excesses against that very population. An opportunity to educate is being squandered.”
“Those in the minority, if not given 100% of what they want, will just vandalize it if it goes back up. History is now decided by those who make the biggest squawk. What bothers me most as an ‘indigenous’ person, is getting lectured by non-aborginal critics who never discuss both sides of the issue. So, not every ‘indigenous’ person suffers horribly because of a piece of art.”
“Again with the blaming of white settlers. There are oral ouendat stories, preserved by jesuits and recollects. White people have the majority of the population; therefore, they hold many positions in society… In this great country, my ‘indigenous’ children can be PM if they aspire to. Or any other position. I will not raise them as victims. Those are your ceilings, frankly.”
This is about the smearing of Champlain and early settlers. Most came with nothing but the clothes on their back, including many of my ancestors.”

Signs that were placed on the fence surrounding the base of the Champlain Monument during a July 1 ‘Decolonize Orillia’ rally. (Nathan Taylor-OrilliaMatters)

July, 2019:
“A much-debated monument to Samuel de Champlain will be reinstalled in an Ontario town with significant changes, ‘Parks Canada’ announced… The original monument in Orillia, northeast of Toronto, portrayed the French explorer along with several other figures, including four statues of ‘First Nations’ {Aboriginal} people represented in a way some {who?} considered ‘racist’.

“‘Parks Canada’ owns the structure and the land it sat on, and took the monument down for refurbishing after a 2015 assessment showed it was deteriorating. In a release, ‘Parks Canada’ said only the figure of Champlain will be reinstalled immediately. The other bronze statues, including those portraying ‘indigenous’ {No, ‘aboriginal’} people, will be the subject of further consultation with ‘First Nations’ {Aboriginals} and other ‘stakeholders’ {?} starting later this year, ‘Parks Canada’ said.

“The federal agency said its decision was informed by ‘public’ {aboriginal} consultation and the recommendations of a working group, which had been studying the issues for eight months. The working group included the Orillia municipal government, ‘Parks Canada’ representatives, ‘First Nations’ {aboriginals} and other groups. ‘Parks Canada’ said it would implement the recommendations of the working group in full.

“The monument was unveiled in 1925 and portrayed Champlain atop a stone slab. Below him on both sides were two other scenes, in which ‘indigenous’ {aboriginal} people were shown sitting at the feet of a Jesuit priest and a fur trader. A plaque accompanying the monument said it was meant to commemorate
the advent into Ontario of the white race“.

“The plaque will now be ‘updated’ to honour its “original intent within the context of contemporary ‘knowledge’ and ‘wisdom’“, according to the recommendations of the working group. The plaque’s final text will also be part of the forthcoming consultations, ‘Parks Canada’ said.

“In addition to the changes to the monument itself, the working group’s recommendations call for further works or signs to be created that will more accurately describe the history of Samuel de Champlain’s relationship with ‘First Nations’ {Aboriginals}. They knew the land through which his expeditions travelled and he relied on them for guides, advice and supplies. The “reimagining” of the monument would add “much needed context{‘much-needed political correctness’}, the ‘Parks Canada’ release said.

“The monument had been taken down by ‘Parks Canada’ in 2017, after a 2015 review found it was damaged. But ‘Parks Canada’ delayed reconstructing it after hearing complaints about the representation of ‘indigenous’ {aboriginal} people and considering the findings of the {Aboriginal} federal {Partial} Truth and ‘Reconciliation’ Commission.”

–‘Controversial Champlain monument to be reinstalled in Orillia, with alterations’,
Canadian Press, July 24, 2019
“It sounded like thunder, manmade thunder. A loud crashing coming from down by the lake, amplified by the water, by Lake Couchiching, which must have lapped at the shore in just the same way, with the same beautiful indifference the day the Champlain Monument was erected in 1925.

“People must have applauded then, clapped for the unveiling, all 18,000 of them (more than double the town’s population attended the event), a noise that may also have resembled the roll of thunder. The town dignitaries spruced up and beaming, flowers, perhaps, in their buttonholes. The women in hats and gloves, their finery fluttering in the summer breeze.

“Because it was something to celebrate, after the war. (The First World War delayed the arrival of the monument by 10 years.) Because it was beautiful, Vernon March’s statue, beautiful beyond description — a piece of world-class sculpture by some miracle plunked down in the heart of Orillia. In the park, by the lake, situated in nature, which alone endures, remains in speechless witness to human history, nature the backdrop to the goings-on of people, wordless observer of that other powerful force, human nature.

“There’s hardly any point in writing it down, recording what people do, what the human race gets up to. It’s the same thing over and over: love and hate, war and peace on every scale and in every variation from domestic to world conflagration. The Champlain Monument delayed while 65 million busied themselves trying to slaughter each other. One man toiling to make something beautiful while countless toiled in an unnecessary hell.

“March’s monument applauded one moment and criticized another, erected one year and removed (temporarily, they say) only days ago. While humans try to decide what to make of themselves, come to terms with who they are, what they’ve done, what version of themselves they can live with. The white man ashamed of imposing his will on another people; the people imposed on, ashamed of letting it happen. All of them, every tribe, white, red, brown and yellow, wonderful, all of them terrible, all of them righteous, all of them guilty. How the moon and the stars must laugh. How the sun must grow annoyed shining down on a world of fools.

“Of which I am undoubtedly one. A fool to think the Champlain Monument would always be there to comfort me, as it has done since I was young. To think time would never touch the stone and bronze that lit something inside me as a child, that it would endure far longer than I needed it to. I didn’t care about the reason it was built; I only saw the characters. I didn’t see it as a monument commemorating one thing or another; I saw beauty, and couldn’t turn my eyes away, couldn’t keep my hands off it. Climbed every chance I got onto the laps of the Natives, men as natural and beautiful as the lake and the trees. Felt their metal sinews warm beneath my hand, more alive than flesh and blood.

“I didn’t care for the priest, holding his cross like a weapon in the air. Didn’t find the fur trader of particular interest. They had something to sell, these men, wanted something from other people. Whereas Champlain and the Natives had a different air, men engaged in learning, with navigating the world around them, looking about themselves. It was them I loved, as did, perhaps, Vernon March, since he made them (at least to my mind) the most beautiful, gave them the best lines, made them flow and ripple in a way that strikes the heart; different, the Natives and Champlain, but equally compelling. Champlain a little pensive, a little burdened by having to be (according to ‘Wikipedia’) “a navigator, cartographer, draftsman, soldier, explorer, geographer, ethnologist, diplomat, and chronicler”. Tired but maintaining his dignity, a kind of weary flourish to his hat and cape.

“The Natives bearing a dignity of their own, that of men who survive by their own wits, their own acquired wisdom. Who respect the land and all its creatures and thereby earn their own respect. Bearing a beauty other men lose as leaving childhood they grow veneers, take their place in artificial worlds, no longer natural, slaves to position and possession.

“Why don’t they see, these men of various stripe and hue, they are all caught in the same predicament of being alive, all players, as Shakespeare said, on the stage of life? Why don’t they see their contrasts define them, sharpen their outlines, make them clear and vivid figures in the parade of life — that it’s the assortment of characters that makes the picture come alive? As Vernon March took the narrative he was given (March was commissioned to create a monument commemorating the 300th anniversary of Champlain’s visit to Huronia) and infusing each component with every spark of his being made something first-rate and beautiful.

“Bring it back. Rearrange the figures if you must. Reword the plaque. But bring back the Champlain Monument. It belongs not just to the city of Orillia, not just to history, not to the white man or the Native, not to the zealot or the merchant, but to the realm of art, to its own true self, to the very pageant of life.”

–‘Update the Champlain Monument if you must, but bring it back’,
Down With Champlain?’:
“Now, some aboriginals want Champlain’s statue removed. It’s in Orillia, Ont., but a Quebec tribe wants it gone. A Quebec Mohawk tribe is also attempting to stop the western Canadian ‘Trans Mountain’ pipeline. Why are these tribes interfering with activities outside their so-called ‘traditional territories’? Why are government officials listening??”


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