Editor’s Note: This article has been corrected to include the correct title for the “Your Stories, Our History” initiative, and some additional details have been included.
Sir John A. Macdonald’s birthday is on Friday, and that raises questions as to how he should be remembered.
Canada’s first prime minister was born on Jan. 11, 1815, in Glasgow, Scotland, but of course, he has long been associated with the city of Kingston.
The city continues to get input on how Macdonald’s legacy should be reflected locally, and his legacy comes into question as his birthday approaches. Yes, he was a Father of Confederation, a nation builder. But also, he was the architect of residential schools.
“We’ve been busy engaging on this issue and certainly encouraging community dialogue and discussion about the entire legacy of Sir John A. Macdonald, both the good and the bad,” said Bryan Paterson, Kingston’s mayor.
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The Macdonald legacy project, dubbed “Your Stories, Our History” was launched in September. As of the second week of January, it has received 55 submissions online and another 50 in person.
Laurel Claus-Johnson, a member of the Katarokwi Grandmothers Council, says that while you can’t rewrite history, you can add to it and you can flesh out what’s been missing.
“I think that’s a vanguard myself, adding and making it better and making it fuller and advising and using your own integrity on how you go forward and say things because we own our words and our actions.”
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Yet in regards to what has become an almost yearly tradition, Claus-Johnson says that defacing statues of Macdonald, like the one in Kingston City Park, isn’t the way to go.
Kingston Communications Officer Jen Pinarski reminds the public that “Additional opportunities to offer feedback will be hosted by the City throughout 2019. These will involve several in-person public workshops, guest speakers/talks, as well as partnerships and booths at community events and festivals. Opportunities will be posted at https://getinvolved.cityofkingston.ca/“
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