‘Gassy Jack’ statue defaced with red paint

The statue of Gassy Jack in Vancouver’s Gastown neighbourhood was defaced with red paint overnight Monday. It comes as an online petition grows calling for the statue’s removal. Isabelle Raghem reports.

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The iconic statue of the man thought of as the founder of Gastown, known as ‘Gassy Jack,’ was defaced Tuesday with red paint.

The paint has since been cleaned up, but a local Indigenous cultural leader wants the statue taken down and replaced.

Cease Wyss, a member of the Squamish Nation, welcomed the defacement of the statue.

She said John Deighton, a saloon owner and operator in Gastown in the 1860s, married two Squamish women in his lifetime, one of whom was a 12-year-old girl at the time the marriage took place.

“Why is the monument made of Gassy Jack when all he did was build an area of town where he sold alcohol and where he, basically, slept with young women, under what we would consider the legal age now,” Wyss added.

She wants the statue replaced with some form of recognition for the contributions of Indigenous women.

It’s unclear who’s responsible for throwing red paint on the statue of Deighton, who died in 1875.

A sign reading “MMIW” — for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women — was left leaning against the statue.

Vancouver Police is investigating the paint incident, speaking with business operators in the area and canvassing for surveillance video.

Last week, a statue of the man the City of Vancouver is named after was vandalized. Paint was tossed over the likeness of George Vancouver, which stands outside city hall in the area of Cambie Street and 12th Avenue, sometime overnight Thursday.

RELATED: Vandals strike George Vancouver statue outside city hall

Meanwhile, a review of statues that commemorate colonizing figures in Newfoundland and Labrador’s history has reignited criticism of “discovery” narratives glorified in the province’s culture.

There have been renewed calls from politicians, Indigenous leaders and many residents to put an end to “Discovery Day” — a provincial holiday celebrating John Cabot’s 1497 arrival that falls on the Monday nearest June 24.

In the U.S. a statue of Christopher Columbus that stood in a St. Louis park for 134 years was removed Tuesday amid a growing national outcry against monuments to the 15th century explorer.

Several Columbus statues have been targeted during the widespread protests over the death of George Floyd and racial inequality.

A Columbus statue in Richmond, Virginia, was toppled last week. Seven people were arrested for vandalizing a statue of the explorer in Miami. And a statue of Columbus in Boston was beheaded.

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