The City of Victoria is committed to Reconciliation with the Esquimalt Nation and Songhees Nation.
Victoria Reconciliation Dialogues
The seven-part Victoria Reconciliation Dialogues series is available for viewing online.
Guided by members of the City Family and special guests, the conversations seek to build the community’s knowledge and understanding of reconciliation -- what it is, why it is needed and why community participation in reconciliation is important.
NEW - Reconciliation Contribution Fund
The City of Victoria has established the Reconciliation Contribution Fund to create an opportunity for anyone to contribute a voluntary amount to the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations. People have asked for a tangible way for Victoria residents and businesses to make a meaningful contribution towards reconciliation. The Fund will be used by the Songhees Nation and Esquimalt Nation to achieve the goals and aims of their communities. Learn more.
Witness Reconciliation Program
In 2017, the City embarked on a Witness Reconciliation Program. This program reflects the City’s intention to act on its commitment to Reconciliation with the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations.
This work will be done with integrity, an open heart, and a willingness to work in diverse ways and take the time needed.
Through an agile and evolving process, together, we will work to make the culture, history, and modern reality of local Indigenous Peoples become present and apparent throughout the city, and valued in our residents' everyday lives. We will build and nurture strong relationships with the Songhees and Esquimalt Peoples that thrive in times of harmony and endure times of strife. As a city, we are committed to this work, in alliance with our Indigenous Partners.
Through the Witness Reconciliation Program, the City will hold fast to the Principles of Reconciliation and will follow a process that will create and use relationships as a foundation for the work together. The process will be fluid, flexible, adaptable and foster a long-term relationship between the City and our Indigenous Partners. Learn more.
Background and Updates
Sir John A. Macdonald Statue
In 2017, the City of Victoria began a journey of Truth and Reconciliation with the Lekwungen peoples, the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations, on whose homeland the city stands. City Council created the Witness Reconciliation program and appointed a City Family made up of members of the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations, other urban Indigenous people, the Mayor and select City Council members.
Following a year-long process of deliberation, conversation and truth-sharing, the City Family determined that to show progress on the path of Reconciliation, the City should remove the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald from the front doors of City Hall, while the City, the Nations and the wider community grapple with Macdonald’s complex history as both the first Prime Minister of Canada and also the architect of the residential school system, the painful legacies of which are still felt today.
The statue was removed on August 11, 2018, and is stored safely in a city facility. A plaque explaining the removal of the statue stands in its place in front of City Hall. The plaque reads:
“In 2017, the City of Victoria began a journey of Truth and Reconciliation with the Lekwungen peoples, the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations, on whose territories the city stands.
The members of the City Family – part of the City’s Witness Reconciliation Program – have determined that to show progress on the path of reconciliation the City should remove the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald from the front doors of City Hall, while the City, the Nations and the wider community grapple with Macdonald’s complex history as both the first Prime Minister of Canada and a leader of violence against Indigenous Peoples.
The statue is being stored safely in a city facility. We will keep the public informed as the Witness Reconciliation Program unfolds, and as we find a way to recontextualize Macdonald in an appropriate way. For more information please visit www.victoria.ca/reconciliation."
This important step on the path of reconciliation ensured that family members and other Indigenous people did not need to walk past this painful reminder of colonial violence each time they enter the doors of their municipal government.
The removal of the statue from the front steps of City Hall enabled a wider community conversation to unfold about how, where and in what context the statue could be re-situated in a way that tells a broader and more complex version of Canada’s history.
- Councillor Motion: Witness Reconciliation Family Appointments, June 15, 2017
- Committee Remuneration Policy [PDF - 848 KB]
- Sir John A MacDonald Statue Removal - Costs [PDF - 511 KB]
Recognizing that the statue was an obstacle to healing and reconciliation between the City of Victoria and local First Nations, in summer 2022, the Sir John A. Macdonald Historical Society requested the return of the statue.
The City, the Historical Society and local First Nations held conversations on the issue before drafting recommendations on its return. In September 2022, Council agreed to return the statue to the Society, stipulating that the statue will not be permitted to be displayed on Vancouver Island without approval from the local First Nations or the Nation(s) on whose territory the statue will stand. Any future display will include the fullest possible information about the first Prime Minister of Canada.