EDITORIAL – Let’s not make too much of the headdress on Overlanders statue

(Image: Mel Rothenburger)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

SOME PRANKSTER put a feathered headdress on Augustus Schubert’s head Friday.

By Saturday morning the wind had blown it off old Gus’s head and it ended up draped over Catherine Schubert’s shoulder.

It would be easy to make too much of this.

True, the Overlanders statue depicting the Schubert family on their river raft is the city’s premier piece of public art and deserves respect. True, the Schuberts represent the pioneering spirit that built Kamloops — their daughter Rose, born the day after they arrived with the Red River Overlanders in 1862, was the first white person born here.

There are several possible motives for adorning the statue with feathers.

One might be some sort of statement about indigenous grievances.

Another might be a complaint about the lack of indigenous representation in the statue.

A third might be somebody’s idea of a clever joke.

It’s worth noting, by the way, that the original design of the statue included a kneeling indigenous man but he was removed in the final version due, I believe, to sensitivity over him appearing subservient to Augustus Schubert.

Anyway, I lean toward the harmless prank theory. There was no vandalism, no spray painting of slogans. It compares to the Christmas decorations sometimes hung on the statue of Phil Gaglardi.

The time may come when the Schuberts are demonized as white colonists who invaded and dispossessed First Nations lands; maybe there will be demands the statue be removed. That would be sad but it’s not what’s happening now.

This little Friday night escapade is nothing more than a bit of fun. And with all the serious and divisive issues surrounding reconciliation, it’s good for everyone to share a smile now and then.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He writes five commentaries a week for CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (8040 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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