Are Canadians Trying to Rewrite History?

The Background 

If you follow Canadian history (or at least paid attention in class), you’ll know that John A. Macdonald was Canada’s very first prime minister, and the source of some of our most sordid moments. As the U.S. faces an identity crisis, with many pushing local governments to remove Confederate statues in cities across the country, the same issues are being dealt with here on our own home turf. Last week in Ontario, the Elementary Teachers Federation called on public schoolsnamed after Macdonald to be renamed, citing his treatment of Indigenous people across the country. While Macdonald can be credited with uniting our country and building the transcontinental railway, he was also behind the “starvation of Indigenous people along the railway to facilitate its construction” and played a key role in “the genocide of Indigenous peoples on Turtle Island.”

What Else You Need to Know

The big news today is that Justin Trudeau finally weighed in on the controversy, and much like his counterpart in the U.S., said there are no plans to remove John A. Macdonald’s name from any structures (public schools included) or properties under federal jurisdiction. That’s not to say that local and provincial governments couldn’t also follow suit from our neighbours next door and do their own thing, but it’s not looking that way. (Ontario premier, Kathleen Wynne said the proposal “missed the mark.”) Sounding A LOT like POTUS (though quite a bit more eloquent), Trudeau defended the decision saying, “Non-Indigenous Canadians have an essential role to play in how we shape a better and more responsible future for everyone who shares this land and these conversations are extremely important to have, to reflect on our past and to build the right future forward together.” CBC

What’s Next?

Despite our PM’s objection, the teachers’ union is still hoping they can convince school boards to remove the name.