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Themuseum In Kitchener, Ont. Turns Vandalism Into Part Of Its Canada Day Exhibit

"The whole point of our exhibition is to hear those diverse voices."

07/04/2017 19:37 EDT | Updated 07/04/2017 19:37 EDT
Facebook/Themuseum
Vandals stained this flag with black paint and left behind a banner that read '150+ years of resistance #unsettling 150,' at Themuseum in Kitchener, Ont.

KITCHENER, Ont. — Police are investigating it as an act of vandalism, but the director of an Ontario museum where a giant Canadian flag was stained with black paint over the Canada Day weekend says it was also an act of resistance.

The unknown vandal or vandals left behind a banner that reads: "150+ years of resistance #unsettling 150," said David Marskell, CEO of Themuseum, in Kitchener, Ont.

Marskell said he contacted police about the incident, which he believes happened in the early hours of Canada Day, and has arranged for the four-storey-tall flag to be cleaned, but he decided to keep the protest banner.

It is now part of the museum's main exhibition — "A Cause for Celebration? First Things First" — which examines injustices by Canada's prime ministers against aboriginal people and incorporates the work of indigenous artists, Marskell said.

... to be a fair land we need to listen and understand.David Marskell

The exhibition's curators thought the protest banner fit the theme, he said.

Marskell said he went online and found the hashtags #unsettling and #unsettling150 have been used on social media to tag posts about recent indigenous-led protests of the sesquicentennial celebrations.

"Canada 150 is about both celebration and introspection and to be a fair land we need to listen and understand," he said. "The whole point of our exhibition is to hear those diverse voices."

Marskell said the exhibition hasn't received any complaints and he doesn't believe it prompted the vandalism.

"I think that for somebody, a large flag was a perfect target to make sure that their message of resistance was heard," he said.

Marskell said he doesn't support the vandalism, but added he's "pleased" the museum was chosen as a place to express an "important opinion."

"It is important to understand how resistance allows understanding of the many voices that make up Canada, its history and the land."

He said the museum is holding an event on July 12, with free admission, where speakers will host a dialogue about the incident and the issues it raises.

Meanwhile, local police are investigating and asking any witnesses to come forward.

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