The call to strike references to John A. Macdonald in various places in Canada for his treatment of aboriginal people is similar to the anger over celebrating Confederate Civil War leaders in the U.S. Image contributed

EDITORIAL: Rewriting history simply complicated

John A. Macdonald statue need not come down, but Indigenous leaders deserve equal treatment

As the question looms over what to do with statues bearing the names of leaders with complicated legacies, so too does the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald loom over the City of Victoria, just outside city hall.

Macdonald was Canada’s first prime minister and also served as Victoria’s MP for a short time toward the end of his career. His blinding ambition for politics served to establish Canada at an incredible pace, though his treatment and disregard for our First Nations peoples remains at the heart of the argument.

Do we rename the countless public schools that bear his title?

The answer is as complicated as the actions Macdonald brought forth in establishing what is modern Canada. A recent Angus Reid poll finds more than half of Canadians, 55 per cent, would oppose the removal and only 25 per cent are in favour.

Protesters took to the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia last month in an effort to preserve the statue of Confederate Civil War general Robert E. Lee. It is easy to brush off the racial tensions of the U.S. saying Canada is a different place.

But, it has only been since the election of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2015 that Canada has taken real steps in the direction of reconciling our past, acknowledging the oppressive measures that continue today as a result of horrors like the residential school system.

And even that is still up for debate.

History is important, and as the saying goes, “those who don’t learn it are doomed to repeat it.” As a nation, Canada continues to learn from the dark periods of its past. The survivors of the Japanese internment camps of the 1940s and the Sixties Scoop no longer have to live through those atrocities. But, they certainly haven’t forgotten them.

The question then becomes, whose version of Canadian history deserves the highest honour? Macdonald stands over tourists and residents of our city encased in bronze for all time. Perhaps instead of tearing him or his name down, we should preserve the history of our Indigenous peoples in the same way.

Just Posted

Public packs Victoria mosque during B.C.’s Open Mosque Day

‘The best way to deal with fear is to educate. That’s what we are trying to do here’

Vancouver Island First Nations Youth Ambassadors deliver message to the United Nations

The delegation appeared at an event celebrating ‘the rich tapestry of global cultural diversity’

Turning pro on the Island

Pacific FC’s Brad Norris-Jones talks about his journey to pro sports in Victoria

Fitness and health programming drew more than 12,000 participants in Saanich

New report also finds a gender split in programming

Local tongue-in-cheek opportunists flog snow huts

‘Executive’ and ‘eco-friendly’ one-bedrooms pop up on Craigslist and Used Victoria

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

James says B.C. budget puts priorities on NDP’s poverty, environment plans

She said she expected the government’s poverty reduction and climate change strategies to be priorities in the budget

PHOTOS: Day 1 of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer

Games kicked off in Red Deer this week

Ammonia leak shuts down curling club in Nelson

It’s not yet clear when the leak was detected

Pavelski’s 31st goal helps Sharks top Canucks 3-2

Vancouver one point out of second NHL wild-card spot

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

B.C. couple attacked with acid, slashed with knife in Vietnam

Warning, graphic images: Man has burns on 80 per cent of his body, slashed with knife

Most Read