Canada’s Black Virgin Mary Monument Painted White in Alleged Vandalism
City officials say that a Black Virgin Mary statue in Vanier, Ontario, Canada, has been the subject of vandalism.
The city maintains the Notre Dame D’Afrique (Our Lady of Africa) and says they did not authorize the repainting of its face and hands, which were recently painted white, Canada’s CBC News reported. An email confirmed that the situation “appears to be vandalism.”
Ottawa police and the city’s corporate office have been notified, and restoration of the monument will be underway. “Work has since begun to have the statue restored and repainted,” said Dan Chenier, the city’s general manager of recreation, cultural and facility services, in a statement. However, Chenier continued to say that “a contract has not yet been awarded, we do not have a timeline for completion of this work at this time.”
Our Lady of Africa was first built in Montreal by the Society of Missionaries of Africa, or The White Fathers, an international Roman Catholic Missionary Society of priests and brothers. The group chose Virgin Mary as their patron saint in 1938 and created the statue in 1955. The White Fathers were the owners of the land in which the Our Lady of Africa sits in Richelieu-Vanier Park along Pères-Blancs Avenue. The forthcoming restoration project will be its third.
In Africa, images of Mary were normally depicted as a Black woman, and so Our Lady of Africa in Vanier was no different.
Stéphanie Plante, the new councilor for Rideau-Vanier, told the news outlet that this incident is one of several other monument vandalisms reflecting diverse communities in the area.
“We want to make sure that Rideau-Vanier, because it does include a lot of vulnerable populations, is reflective of the people who live there and that we’re preserving our historic monuments,” she said.
“If the population would like to take that down or rename it, I’m absolutely open to those kinds of discussions.”
“But as far as I know, that’s probably another one of many incidents in our ward where people feel like they can be creative with our city infrastructure.”