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‘Gassy Jack’ statue toppled in Vancouver during women’s memorial march

Advocates say that John Deighton’s marriage to a 12-year-old makes him an ill-fitting icon for the area
The statue of John Deighton, known as Gassy Jack, was toppled by a women’s march on Monday, Feb. 14, 2022. (cjquaschnick/Twitter)

The statue of Gassy Jack, an 1860s business owner after whom Vancouver’s Gastown neighbourhood is named, has been toppled.

Members of the 31st annual Women’s Memorial March pulled down the statue midday Monday (Feb. 14).

An online petition with more than 23,063 signatures has called on the City of Vancouver to remove the statue of John Deighton.

The petition states that Deighton, then around 40, married a 12-year-old Indigenous girl. Indigenous groups have spoken about the harms done by allowing the statue to stand.

Vancouver Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung said in a social media post that she believed a process was already underway to consult with Indigenous leaders about the statue’s future.

“My understanding was there was a respectful engagement process underway with First Nations leaders to seek their counsel and guidance on how to proceed with with Gassy Jack and the truth of his legacy,” Kirby-Yung posted on social media.

In a statement, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said the city had been in consultations with Squamish Nation on the “right way” to remove the statue and “recognize the truth of John Deighton’s harmful legacy.”

He called Monday’s actions “damaging” and said they undermined the reconciliation work being down with Squamish Nation.

Vancouver police said they are investigating the incident but that so far, no arrests have been made.

More to come.


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