On April 29, community organizations hosted a press conference at Hamilton City Hall condemning the display of hate symbols and the rising targeted hate crimes in Hamilton. In interviews that took place immediately after the press conference, the mayor made comments to the media that countered the calls to action made by Indigenous communities regarding colonial statues. Instead of supporting the requests for removal of statues and monuments that immortalize and celebrate genocide, the mayor used this opportunity to propose his own personal solution to retain the statues and to add explanatory signage nearby.
Colonization is not a force of the past, but rather a continued system that impacts Indigenous communities today in various ways, including through ongoing discrimination. A March 2021 representative survey in Hamilton focused on the extent and context of discrimination, found that approximately 83% of Indigenous Peoples reported experiencing discrimination in Hamilton in the last three years compared to 48.5% of non-immigrant White respondents. The most common reported bases for discrimination were Indigenous identity (61.6%), ethnicity or culture (32.9%), and race or skin colour (28.8%).
Further, Indigenous peoples have stated that the statue of Sir John A. MacDonald, and more recently that of Queen Victoria at Gore Park, are hurtful and triggering. This would not be altered by the addition of signage around the status.
In this context of high levels of reported discrimination, the City of Hamilton must take concrete steps to support Indigenous communities, and not to further traumatize them. As we continue to reckon with centuries of colonization, it is important that we listen to and honour the voices of Indigenous communities. No Hate in the Hammer stands with Indigenous advocates who are asking that monuments of hate and genocide to be taken down. This request is simple and feasible, and we continue to look to the City of Hamilton and its elected representatives to attend to these community demands.