Hate crime investigators lay charge in defacement of Indigenous painting

OTTAWA — Police made an arrest in the hate-crime investigation into the defacement of an Indigenous painting on an Ottawa campus on January 28.

Investigators say a 32-year-old man faces one count of mischief over $5,000 in the vandalism incident at Algonquin College.

Officers arrested the man at the college on Saturday.

Police say any evidence to support an alleged hate motivation is presented during sentencing.

The investigation is ongoing.

The Ottawa Police hate crime officers are investigating paint the smear on a three-story mural that nods to Indigenous stories of creation at Algonquin College.

The college says someone used yellow paint to deface part of the very large mural at its Woodroffe Avenue campus at about 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, according to its security cameras.

The theme was created after consultation with local Algonquin and Mohawk elders, as well as students from various First Nations in light of the themes in many indigenous Creation Stories. The mural features a moose, a hawk and a giant turtle, paying homage to the similar creation stories told by some First Nations that the continent was built on the back of a turtle.

Police have described the incident as “hate-motivated mischief.”

The three-story mural was created by Toronto-based artists Shalak Attack and Bruno Smoky. The school announced last week that Attack and Smoky are returning to the campus in this month to repair damage to the painting.

Ottawa police announced it had reinstated the hate crime unit only a few days before the mural was damaged. The two working officers are also investigating an egg thrown at the National Holocaust Monument at the corner of Booth and Wellington streets at about 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Hate-motivated vandalism is not new.

In the past, misogynistic messages defacing a Toronto memorial commemorating the 1989 massacre at Ecole Polytechnique which was labelled an act of mischief and not a hate crime.

On Dec. 3 of 2019, four men damaged a plaque in the lobby of the Scarborough Centre for Alternative Studies near Midland Ave. and Danforth Rd. marking the 30th anniversary of the murder of 14 women at the hands of mass murderer Marc Lepine.

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