John A. MacDonald was a start

News Unsettled Opinions
Statue of James Cook with red paint
Photo of James Cook with red paint downtown, Photo by Kate Korte.

On Saturday, August 29th, a group of activists in Kanien’kehá:ka territory gathered to demand the defunding of police. As the demonstration was coming to an end, a group scaled the statue of John A. MacDonald and tore it to the ground. This was an extremely powerful act. 

John A. MacDonald put into motion so many policies with the final goal of genocide of Indigenous peoples. He implemented the residential school system, criminalized the potlatch and countless other ceremonies, started the pass system, and exacerbated a famine — causing many Indigenous people to die of hunger. His actions when he was alive warrant no statue. More and more across Turtle Island and even overseas, there is the scrapping of monuments to these people in history that were complicit in terrible acts of violence and oppression. 

There is no way that any sort of reconciliation can succeed when there are still these pieces that honour and heroize those who were responsible for violent colonialism in the first place.

Although it was a start for the lands known as ‘Canada’, the MacDonald statue that was taken down is not the only giant memorial to colonizers past. In every major city there are multiple statues commemorating those who have had their own role in the oppression of peoples.

There is no more room to hold these people in high esteem. We need to start honouring those who have done actual good and made positive difference. It is long overdue for these statues to be removed from their podiums. 

Going through the proper channels for removal has not worked in the past; and, if the negative response and scorn from provincial and federal politicians is not sign enough, going through the proper channels will not work anytime soon. These are Indigenous lands. There should not need to be polite words and asking to remove statues of those who have inflicted long-lasting violence on our nations. 

There is no way that any sort of reconciliation can succeed when there are still these pieces that honour and heroize those who were responsible for violent colonialism in the first place.