The City of Victoria now has more direction for how to handle the John A. Macdonald statue debacle, though any moves aren’t expected soon.
On Monday night the city held its forth reconciliation dialogue, with a theme of: Sir John A. Macdonald in Conversation. The night presented a look at Macdonald’s history, from his role as Canada’s first prime minister, to his actions in developing the residential school system.
Its aim was to inform the public of the man’s complicated history, and offered an opportunity for people to suggest what to do with the Sir John A. Macdonald statue that was removed from City Hall in August 2018.
Live actors performed the historical recounting, and afterwards people in attendance were encouraged to ask questions, discuss and put forward suggestions.
More than 350 people attended the event, the busiest turnout to any of the reconciliation dialogues.
“It was an incredibly rich experience,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps. “The key takeaway was that it was quite informative in terms of getting more information and a deeper understanding of Macdonald’s history.”
Suggestions were put forward on sticky notes, which city staff will now collect and discuss.
One reoccurring theme, Helps said, was to slow down on any decisions.
“With everything that’s happening across the country, there are more important things to focus on,” Helps said. “It’s not a time-sensitive issue.”
She added that discussions will move forward with the City Family – a group comprised of city councillors and representatives of the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations – but not until after the reconciliation dialogues are complete in July.
“The dialogues had their genesis in the statue, so we’ll probably wait until they wrap up, and even then a decision likely won’t be made soon,” Helps said, adding that so far there has been talk of incorporating some kind of artistic component to whatever happens to the statue.
“The issue can be settled by the end of this term [in 2022], but art can’t be rushed.”