Police Investigating ‘Hate-Motivated Graffiti’ Engraved on National War Memorial in Ottawa

Police Investigating ‘Hate-Motivated Graffiti’ Engraved on National War Memorial in Ottawa
A bronzesmith restored the helmet on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the National War Memorial in Ottawa Oct. 17, 2020, after it was vandalized on Oct. 16. (The Canadian Press/Justin Tang)

The Ottawa Police Service is investigating what it calls “hate-motivated graffiti” that occurred at the National War Memorial, the same site where Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was gunned down in October 2014 as he stood guard as an unarmed sentry.

Police said in a news release the suspect rode a bike to the memorial at approximately 9:46 p.m. on Oct. 16 and used a sharp object to engrave "hate graffiti" on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The suspect then left the area on his bike.

The graffiti was removed within 24 hours.

Minister of Veterans Affairs Lawrence MacAulay called the incident “a disgusting act.”

“This was not the vandalization of public property—it was the desecration of a site that stands as a permanent reminder of the memories and sacrifices of every single person who has fought and died in service of Canada,” MacAulay said on Twitter.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson also condemned the act on Twitter.

“What a complete insult and disgrace to our war dead and veterans. If anyone recognizes this low life please contact police,” he wrote.


Although the police news release didn’t mention whether the graffiti targeted a specific group, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said it was anti-Semitic in nature, according to CBC.

"The hateful desecration of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with an anti semitic symbol is despicable," he said in a statement. "The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier represents the gallantry and the sacrifices of all those who fought for our freedom."

The graffiti incident occurred a week from the sixth anniversary of when Cirillo was killed on Oct. 22, 2014, shot in the back by Michael Zehaf-Bibeau while standing on guard unarmed at the memorial site.

Zehaf-Bibeau then ran into the nearby Centre Block parliament building, where he was shot 31 times during a shootout with six Parliament security personnel. The killer had previously expressed support for jihadists, and in a video taken shortly before the attack he expressed the desire to “kill some soldiers.”

The National War Memorial is the annual national site for Remembrance Day ceremonies.