Legacy of Sir John A. Macdonald gets spotlight in Kingston
KINGSTON, ONT. -- The legacy of Canada’s first prime minister is under further scrutiny in Kingston, after Queen’s University decided to remove his name from a campus building.
On Monday, Queen’s announced that its law school would no longer bare the name of Sir John A. Macdonald.
The law school building on the campus of Queen's University is named the Sir John A. Macdonald Hall. Macdonald lived and worked in Kingston and represented the area in Parliament. However, he also played a key role in creating the residential school system.
The university heard from more than 3,000 people during a two-month long public consultation process about whether or not to rename the building, sparked by a student-led petition that racked up thousands of signatures.
Taylor Day is one of the organizers and a member of the Akwesasne First Nation, as well as a second year law student.
She says changing the faculty of law’s name will make future student’s feel more included.
“It’s just nice that students won’t have to see that and wonder, like, am I really wanted here? If they’re going to name a hall after him?” she says.
Many student’s say they are supportive of the move.
“There’s just a long legacy of racism and xenophobia,” says law student Mohamm Jabalemi, “and I think this is just a great first step to reconciling those things.”
“Its movement towards us being a more equitable, inclusive and diverse university,” agrees Queen’s student Tanya Iakobson.
The City of Kingston is also amending Macdonald’s legacy. Earlier this year, the city undertook consultations and says it found many did not want the statue to be taken down.
Instead, it is adding a plaque, with a more complete history of Macdonald's legacy.
At City Council on Tuesday, the city will begin the process to decide what the message will be.
“Being able to have a discussion of being able to talk about the good and the bad of Macdonald’s legacy, we think that’s an important and honest approach to history,” explains Mayor Bryan Paterson.
For those that support the monuments, that is the best approach.
“This is where a lot of the initial decisions were made that makes Canada the country that it is today,” says Kingston resident Robert Carter. “Without Sir John A., you don’t have any of that.”
As for Queen’s University, the school’s board of trustees says a new name for the law building will be decided in the coming months.