Kingston prepares to remove Sir John A. Macdonald Statue from City Park
KINGSTON, ONT. -- As the city of Kingston prepares to remove the Sir John A Macdonald statue from City Park, residents are reacting to the news the monument will be relocated.
On Wednesday evening, city council voted to remove the statue from the park, place it in a temporary location, with the goal of giving it a new home in the Cataraqui Cemetary, which is a National Historic Site where Canada's first prime minister is buried.
The decision to remove the statue from City Park follows a week of peaceful protests by Indigenous residents and allies in the park.
Indigenous residents told CTV News Ottawa they weren’t prepared to speak yet, but ally Viktor Thorson said he’d been at the event, which consists of a sacred fire and ceremony.
"My first reaction was a spark of joy but also a sense of resolve," he says.
Thorson says the atmosphere is one of momentary relief.
"I heard from people, 'I don’t come to this part of town because I don’t want to see this figure on a pedestal,'" Thorson says. "And I think at the very least when the physical marker is removed then some healing may be able to take place."
Kingston’s connection with Macdonald runs deep, and the city considers itself to be Macdonald’s hometown. Some are disappointed to see the statue being moved.
Resident Mark O'Farrell spoke about Macdonald's legacy and connection to the region during Wednesday's Council meeting.
"He was one of the founders of this country. A country that is today revered as one of the best to live," he said. "He was prime minister of Canada and he built the railroad that binds Canadians from coast-to-coast."
The statue will go into temporary storage, and the city will begin consultations with Indigenous members of the community.
In an interview Thursday morning with CTV News, Mayor Bryan Paterson called the decision to move it the best possible compromise.
"Those that are calling for the statue to be removed, the statue is being removed," he said. "Those that are concerned about removing history, that's not going to happen. The statue will remain. There’s a commitment that it will continue to be displayed."
The Limestone Public School Board also voted Wednesday to remove the name of Canada’s first prime minster from a school in the east end.
Paterson says Indigenous groups will be consulted on the statues destination and display in the coming weeks.
"This is all a chance for a community conversation," he explained.