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J.H. Tabaret statue at uOttawa vandalized

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The statue of Joseph-Henri Tabaret at the University of Ottawa (uOttawa) has been vandalized, as a picture taken by CTV News shows red paint all over it.

On the ground, right under the statue, there’s also the word “colonizer,” marked in black.

The statue is located directly across from the encampments. It is unclear whether the nearby demonstrators had anything to do with it. The Ottawa Police Service told CTV News Saturday they are not aware of the incident.

Earlier this month, a group of students launched an encampment at the university calling on the institution to cut financial ties with Israel, despite the school warning that such action would not be tolerated.

The act of vandalism is already sparking debate among Ottawa residents. Christopher Adam, historian and former uOttawa student, spotted the vandalized statue Friday morning. 

"What goes through my head is that as a historian, I do support reviewing our public memory and how we explore public memory, but the way to shut down a conversation is to vandalize.”

Meanwhile, Ottawa councillor Stéphanie Plante told CTV News Ottawa though everyone has the right to protest, residents should take note of the city's history and the significant role the statue represents for the capital's French-speaking community. 

“Everybody has the right to express themselves but we also have to understand that there are some pillars and there is some history in the neighbourhood and we want to make sure that history is respected," Plante said.

"It is a university in a downtown residential area and we’re hoping that we can find solutions to ensure that everybody can have access to the space and express themselves accordingly.”

CTV News has reached out to the university for comments but did not hear back.

Tabaret was a French-born Roman Catholic Priest (1828-1886). He is best known for his remarkable academic contribution to uOttawa, serving for nearly 30 years. Generally, he is referred to as the builder of the university. 

His statue is one of the oldest monuments in Sandy Hill, which is "hidden today behind the conifers in front of Tabaret Hall," reads uOttawa's website. The plan to erect the statue was approved in 1886 at the general meeting of the Alumni Association of the College of Ottawa.

With files from CTV News Ottawa's Katelyn Wilson and William Eltherington

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