Sir John A. Macdonald’s statue was not created to commemorate his stance on residential schools, but rather the fact that he was Canada’s first prime minister. That is an historical fact. While we now know that his thinking on the education of first nation children was wrong, that it has and continues to have negative impacts on our native population, does not change that fact.
His error in believing, at that time, that the native population was inferior to those who came in ships to this country was not his belief and his alone. We have acknowledged and accepted that belief was wrong. But his having those beliefs does not change the hundreds of other decisions he made that contributed in a positive way to the making of Canada as we know it today. It is those positive decisions that lead to the decision to commemorate him with a statue.
Personal I am appalled at the way our native peoples have and are being treated. No one person was responsible, and no one person can correct it. That is the sad truth. We, however, can shed light on those errors without destroying the historical record. That Sir John A. Macdonald was the first prime minister is not in dispute, and being remembered for that is not wrong.
In remembering his feet of clay, his capacity to be human, can be acknowledged as a monumental wrong, but it cannot be undone. What was done after that, by way of attempting to right that wrong, to work toward reconciliation, is also an ongoing truth.
The horror of residential schools cannot be forgotten, but neither should the good done in being the first Prime Minister of Canada. Add some history to the plaque on the statue, the good and the bad, but don’t discard the history the statue was intended to commemorate; and that was not his mistake in creating residential schools or his belief that our native people were not equals, but rather for his role in creating Canada.