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July 2, 2021

Statues of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II have been pulled down in Canada amid protests against the country's treatment of indigenous people.

The demonstrations were against the country's residential schools system - which saw native children required to attend state-run Christian schools where they were prevented from speaking their own languages in a bid to assimilate them into Canadian society.

Many young people were raped, beaten, verbally abused and suffered malnutrition, and up to 6,000 are thought to have died.

More than 150,000 children were forced into the institutions, which opened under the reign of Queen Victoria and finally closed in the 1970s.

Thursday marked Canada Day, a usually celebratory event marking the country's independence, which this year saw more muted recognition following the discovery of almost 1,000 unmarked graves at residential schools in British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

During Thursday's protests, people could be heard chanting "no pride in genocide" around the statue of Queen Victoria in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The plinth was covered in red handprints, with a placard stating "We were children once, bring them home".

Shortly after, a monument to the current monarch was pulled down by the demonstrators.

 Local reports said that a man was arrested, but this was apparently not in connection with the statues being pulled down.

On Wednesday, a Canadian indigenous group said they had found 182 human remains at a former Catholic-run school near Cranbrook, British Columbia in unmarked graves.

The school shut in the 1970s.

Following the discovery, Chief Jason Louie of the Lower Kootenay Band told CBC Radio: "Let's call this for what it is.

"It's a mass murder of indigenous people.

"The Nazis were held accountable for their war crimes.

"I see no difference in locating the priests and nuns and the brothers who are responsible for this mass murder to be held accountable for their part in this attempt of genocide of an indigenous people."

Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015 called the residential schools system "cultural genocide".

Source: The Guardian
Image Source: Getty Images