A statue of Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, was removed from a public park in his home town of Kingston City, Ontario, the latest city to take down monuments of Canada’s founders.
The Kingston City Council voted on Thursday night in favour of relocating the statue from the city park to the Cataraqui Cemetery, a national historic site where Macdonald is buried.
“This was a difficult decision, and the outcome will not appease everyone. However, the hope is that with this compromise we signal to the community, one with very divergent views on this matter, that we’re committed to continued dialogue about the legacy of Sir John A. Macdonald in Kingston,” Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson said in a statement on Thursday.
On June 1, the city council of Charlottetown, in the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island, voted to remove a Macdonnld statue from the city’s downtown area. And in April, the Regina City Council voted to remove a statue of Macdonald from the city’s Victoria Park in Saskatchewan.
Calls for Macdonald’s removal gained momentum after members of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation community last month announced the discovery (pdf) of the remains of 215 indigenous children at the location of a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia.
The Macdonald government introduced the residential school system in 1883, which allegedly led to the deaths of roughly 3,200 indigenous children.
Apart from Macdonald, statues of Egerton Ryerson, a prominent educator and a key architect of the residential school system, have been targeted for vandalism.
On June 6, a statue of Ryerson on the campus of the Ryerson University in Toronto was pulled down, following a massive rally that day at the Ontario legislature in honour of the victims of residential schools system. The university president Mohamed Lachemi said Ryerson’s statue will not be replaced or restored. Lachemi had set up a task force in fall 2020 for considering a change of the university’s namesake.