'Everything is on the table': Kingston renews discussions about fate of Sir John A. Macdonald statue
KINGSTON, ONT. -- The city of Kingston is once again looking into the fate of the Sir John A. Macdonald statue in City Park.
The city’s working group is in talks about the issue of the monument, and will draw up new recommendations for city council, says Kingston’s Mayor Bryan Paterson.
The working group is made up of Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members.
Zoogipon Ikwe is an Algonquin and Ojibwe woman living in the city, and is a member of the working group.
She says what happened to her family in the residential school system passes through generations.
"My grandma never spoke her language because she was; one, ashamed about it. Two, it was also feared that if we spoke our language or if we were 'Indian', then, you know, we wouldn't be treated the same," she explains.
Stories like this are far too common, and have the city looking again at how to approach Macdonald’s legacy in the place of his adopted hometown.
In the city, Canada's first prime minister is featured prominently on streets and even the city’s waterfront.
Across the country, calls to remove statues of Macdonald have been renewed, after the discovery of 215 bodies of children at a residential school in Kamloops B.C.
In Kingston, someone painted the number 215 on the Macdonald statue in recent days.
Mayor Bryan Paterson says it will be up to the working group to make the recommendations to council.
"Everything is on the table. I’m not going to rule out anything at this point," Paterson says in an interview with CTV News Ottawa.
A plaque meant for the foot of the statue was meant to expand on his legacy and his role in the residential school system, but some feel that doesn’t do enough to address it.
Paterson says that some discussions have already taken place.
"One thing they suggested was bringing the statue down from its pedestal. Another suggested making alterations or additions to the statue," he explains.
Ikwe says she wants it to be removed and placed in a museum.
"He's an emotional trigger for pain and for loss and grief and deep spiritual wounds that were inflicted upon us," she says.
The mayor says the group will take the next several weeks to make its recommendation to council.
Ikwe says for her it’s about moving forward.
"It's about healing. To get rid of that statue is healing that deep soul wound, so we can begin to do that," she says. "So we can begin to work together."