Public reaction including social media to Sidney’s decision to remove a portrait of the Queen from council chambers varies from indifference to indignation.
Sidney removed the portrait from behind the mayor’s chair in early May as part of its commitment towards reconciliation with First Nations in Canada. Council also commissioned a piece of First Nations art from Chazz Elliott, a Coast Salish artist from the Tsartlip Reserve, after discovering that municipal hall was lacking any kind of recognition of local First Nations. Sidney’s budget for the commission is $10,000. It is not clear yet where the piece will appear.
“So what?” wrote Michelle McDormand on Facebook in commenting on the removal of the portrait. “Nobody noticed,” she said. “Goes to show nobody cares. Probably could have hung her picture upside down and no one would notice.” Ultimately, McDormand appears to agree with the decision to remove the portrait. “Her highness was a huge part of colonization,” she said. “Let her nonsense go.”
Others were less amused by the Queen’s visual absence from council chambers. “I think this is another attack on tradition,” wrote Melanie Talson.
Writing in a letter to the Peninsula News Review, Holly McKay said the removal makes her fear that Sidney council is following in the steps of Victoria council by “arbitrarily making these decisions to remove symbols of our history” alluding to Victoria’s removal of a statue of Canada’s first prime minister John A. Macdonald from the exterior of city hall.
“One of the reasons we moved to Sidney from Victoria was that we could no longer stand the way downtown Victoria was transforming,” she said. “Surely there is a space somewhere in chambers for the head of our Commonwealth.”
Several others made the same argument in suggesting that Sidney could feature both First Nations (as the municipality plans) and return the Queen, a possibility raised by town officials.
Others, meanwhile, suggested that the whole issue is a tempest in a royal teapot.
“I’m pro royal family but how trivial is a picture on a wall,” wrote Erica Louise.