Why is the City engaging the community on the Queen Victoria statue?
In response to community concerns and growing awareness about the legacy of place names and symbols, Kitchener City Council directed staff to prioritize an “equity-driven process” including a public education component exploring the history and impacts of the Queen Victoria statue located in Victoria Park, and community engagement activities to unpack multiple perspectives and options related to its future.. The process, as directed by Council, “will provide opportunities for the public at large to provide input while prioritizing the voices of Indigenous, Black and racialized community members.”
Who do we want to hear from?
We want to hear from the entire community. Given that the statue is a colonial symbol, we will centre the voices of groups affected by the historical and ongoing impacts of colonialism, including Indigenous, Black and racialized community members. For example, if there was a gender-based concern related to this or another site, we would centre the voices of girls, women and gender-diverse individuals. Similarly, if there was an accessibility concern related to this or another site, we would centre the voices of disabled people and elders who have mobility issues. The same principle and good practice apply, which is why we are centring the voices of Indigenous, Black and racialized community members during this particular project. At the same time, we understand that all members of the public should have an opportunity to productively contribute to conversations about the creation, stewardship and transformation of public spaces. So, while centring the voices of affected groups, we will also create space to listen to, and respectfully consider, a diverse range of perspectives from the entire community.
What do we mean when we say that we will prioritze the voices of Indigenous, Black and racialized community members?
What we mean by prioritizing these voices – and other voices that have historically been excluded in major municipal discussions – is intentionally connecting with community organizations that engage a diverse range of community stakeholders; creating respectful space for hearing and learning under-told historical perspectives; providing accommodations such as light meals, transit fare and child minding at all engagements; and ensuring that individuals without access to online platforms have an opportunity to participate in the process.
What is the benefit of participating in the Queen Victoria Statue community engagement?
The Queen Victoria statue is located in a public space imbued with multiple histories, current challenges and beautiful cross-racial community connections. Through meaningful conversations and co-learning, community members will have an opportunity to share their perspectives, consider new ideas and inform the equitable placemaking recommendations that will be highlighted in a staff report to guide the future of the statue.
Is this process part of the City’s reconciliation strategy?
We are taking an equity lens and centring affected groups in this process. Based on the history of advocacy related to the statue, this body of work will intersect with and inform other reconciliation conversations in the community However, the City is mindfully moving through the early phases of our reconciliation strategy to ensure we are building our capacity while also building a meaningful and actionable vision. While we will undoubtedly learn from Indigenous peoples’ diverse perspectives through this process, the Queen Victoria statue initiative precedes and extends beyond the bounds of our upcoming reconciliation strategy. Through the current engagement, we will learn more about how to engage in equitable processes, which will help our learning journey and growth overall as a City.
When will there be opportunities to give feedback online?
On December 9, 2022, community members will learn about potential placemaking options for the statue and have an opportunity to provide insights. We recognize that not everyone will be able to take part in that engagement. As such, in January 2023, we will share the options on this page and you will have an opportunity to share your insights. We will also be working with community partners to host a series of small table conversations so that community members without access to online platforms can provide their insights in-person. To get an email when you can contribute online, use the Stay Informed ‘Subscribe’ button.