I don’t know about you, but I was taught a long time ago who John A. MacDonald is. Throughout school, elementary to high school, Canadians are taught about the Prime Ministers of our country. Correction, we are taught about the positive attributes and contributions of those Prime Ministers.
You know what we aren’t told? The direct correlation that many of them have to the darkest part of Canadian history. I was taught about the residential school system throughout school but I wasn’t told about the speeches John A MacDonald made when he created residential schools, or about his evident racism throughout his time leading Canada.
I have never been to Canada’s Capital, and guess what? I didn’t need to go see a statue to learn about John A MacDonald—he’s literally on our money. I don’t need a statue of him to know Canadian history. Statues should be there for people we revere, who’s light and deeds deserve to be seen and accredited. We need more statues of Terry Fox, and Nellie McClung—Canadian heroes, people to look up-to.
Canadian’s don’t need a statue of their first Prime Minister—we know who he is just fine. Anybody who claims that toppling a statue is erasing history either has very poor faith in their memory or is oblivious to the bigger issues at hand. John A MacDonald is still on our money, he is still in our textbooks, he isn’t being erased from history.
But do you know who was erased from history? The thousands of children and families impacted generationally from the Indian act and the residential school system. Children were stolen from their families, stripped of their culture and put in the hands of abusers because the man in charge of making foundational decisions for Canada decided that everyone needed to be more like the ‘white man’. There are still unmarked, mass graves scattered across this country with those who died in residential schools. Say what you will, but the fact that a statue of a man who literally thought up and laid the legal groundwork for Canada’s least acknowledged cultural genocide doesn’t bother me.
In fact, I believe that this doesn’t erase history at all. If anything it reopens the door for more discussion and debate on Canada’s history. The times we are in right now are an opportunity to refresh our education on Canadian history, and this time not leave anything out.