Stop the Statue Project
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Stop the Statues
In June 2015 stories in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record and on cbc.ca (see links below) noted that Wilfrid Laurier University had agreed to install, house and maintain privately-funded bronze statues of all 22 Canadian Prime Ministers at the University's own expense. This ‘statue project’ was first proposed for Victoria Park, Kitchener in 2013 but was turned down by City Council due to significant public protest. Two recurring themes of that protest were the project's lack of artistic merit and the fact that it runs counter to the cultural diversity of the KW Region.
We similarly oppose the ‘statue project’ at Wilfrid Laurier University and call on University President Max Blouw and Jamie Martin, Chair of the Board of Governors, to stop the project immediately and to remove the recently acquired statue of Sir John A. Macdonald (pictured). It is politically and culturally insensitive (if not offensive) to celebrate and memorialize all Canadian Prime Ministers in the form of bronze statues on land that traditionally belongs to the Neutral, Anishnawbe and Haudenosaunee peoples. It is particularly offensive given Wilfrid Laurier University’s publicized commitments to diversity and inclusivity and the many recent initiatives to enhance opportunities for Aboriginal Peoples in the post-secondary system (at Laurier and across Canada).
We further oppose the project given the lack of public consultation and the minimal amount of internal consultation that took place prior to the June announcement. The initial proposal for Victoria Park was rejected due to strong public opposition. In a laudable exercise in public consultation, the City of Kitchener surveyed residents about the project: 79% of respondents (1920/2441) indicated that they did not support the statue project "in concept." While the University Administration has suggested that it welcomes the spirited discussion that the statues will provoke, in our view, consultation and debate should precede rather than follow the decision to proceed with such a large-scale public art installation that will significantly, and lastingly, transform the cultural landscape of the Waterloo campus.
In these ways and others, this project is an embarrassment to the University and the larger community and should be stopped immediately.
Also see this article on similar issues and responses at US Universities:
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