Protesters gathered for what is expected to be one of many sit-ins at the Baden statue of Canada's first Prime Minister.
On Saturday, protesters laid down signs at the feet of Sir John A. MacDonald, calling for his removal from the grounds of Castle Kilbride. Hanging from his neck and hands were signs with quotes by MacDonald that reflected his anti-Indigenous views.
"The executions of the Indians ought to convince the Red Man that White Man governs."
"I have reason to believe that the agents as a whole ... are doing all they can by refusing food until the Indians are on the verge of starvation, to reduce the expense."
"When the school is on the reserve, the child lives with his parents who are savages; he is surrounded by savages ... he simply a savage who can read and write."
Following each quote was the following retort to those who see the statue as a historical document.
"If you want to preserve history, you will leave this sign here. If you are a racist, you will remove this sign."
New Hamburg resident Cheyanne Thorpe, is one of the Indigenous voices behind the call to remove the SJAM statue. She says it's been a positive experience for the most part, with supporters passing along words of encouragement.
"We are not trying to erase history. We are attempting to amend it. We are attempting to mold it. And we are attempting to create it, by our actions here today," she said. The group plans to stage a sit-in protest every Saturday starting July 11th.
There was an incident early on in the protest where a man was attempting to heckle Thorpe while she was speaking about the history of residential schools.
"That Sir John A. Macdonald was responsible for the creation of residential school system, that thousands and thousands of Canadians not only suffered, but died at the hands of his oversight, and his direct policies and orders, and that there are individuals that are still alive in our community today that have direct ties to these instances that have taken place as little as 24 years ago," Thorpe said.
Jessica Hutchison was at the protest and provided video of the incident to 570 NEWS. The video shows a man verbally cussing at protesters, before swinging a plastic water bottle at another. He was escorted off the property by Regional police who were monitoring the event. No one was hurt.
WRPS referred to it as a verbal dispute and no one was arrested.
The statue itself has been splashed with red paint in three separate acts of vandalism in the past week alone. Wilmot Council had decided to leave the paint on after the second incident, only for others to come along and wash it off, including people that were identified by the Canadian Anti-Hate Networks as an alt-right, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant hate group.
Thorpe and others at the protest are encouraging people to join in the dialogue regardless of whether they are for or against the statue. They are asking people to sign up as a delegate at the July 13 Wilmot council meeting or email their representatives on council. A petition is being prepared as well.
You can also join the Petition For Removal of Wilmot Statue Facebook group HERE.