LETTER: History of Macdonald one sided for far too long

In response to “Online petition calls for Holding Court to remain at Picton Library” July 23 The Picton Gazette

As a York University alumnus with degrees in Human Rights and Canadian studies, a member of BIPOC in PEC, an Indigenous ally, a member of the newly formed John A. Macdonald working group and a person of color, I challenge various comments in an article dated July 23 entitled Online petition calls for Holding Court to remain at Picton Library.

It was stated that Canadians welcome debate when there is a fair forum. Now, fair forums are welcome and required, yet debates in recent history for the most part have lacked the voices of the most marginalized, specifically the voices of those who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). When BIPOC voices are amplified as is the case with many current movements, these voices are asked to “chill out and smoke something”.

Points of view regarding systemic racism in the form of discriminatory policies still embedded in today’s society or a polarizing statue which depicts a problematic historical figure are quickly dismissed as “cancel culture” as alluded to in the article. It is misleading and inaccurate to label discussions surrounding statue removals as a culture of canceling when protesters and demonstrators merely seek to create a culture of accountability. For far too long history has been discussed and cemented through a eurocentric lens, subsequently, when claims are made that depict a long celebrated historical figure like John A. Macdonald in a more accurate and truthful manner, such as but not limited to his policies that in effect starved Indigenous people in order to settle the west, the forceful removal of Indigenous peoples from their land, and his promotion of the myth of black criminality, many are quick to get defensive as if it is an attack on Canada itself.

Regardless, these facts cannot be disputed or relegated as “misleading and inaccurate information circulated about John A McDonald…” as suggested in an earlier article.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission intended to illuminate truth as a way to begin reconciling with parts of Canada’s dark past in relation to Indigenous people. This must include the acceptance of ugly historical facts. If we are truly a society who are willing to reconcile with our past, we must start with the truth even if the truth is uncomfortable.

Sure, MacDonald may have accomplished many feats as Canada’s first prime minister, but the fact remains that there are certain populations currently within this country who endure the lion’s share of historical trauma in part due to Macdonald’s policies and practices. Macdonald’s legacy needs to be reexamined as his statue reinforces and normalizes the dismissal of the lived experiences of Indigenous people.

We cannot alter what is true, we cannot change or erase history and if you think removing a statue somehow achieves this let us actually talk about it.

Let us actually talk about the real, the racist, and the ugly history without relegating facts as misleading and untruths.

Fern Dias

Prince Edward County