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Full Professor, Department of History, Faculty of Arts
How to interpret Canadian history in contemporary public spaces in light of recent movements for social and political change.
“Statues, street and school names, and other aspects of our cultural landscape make it seem as if people of European origin belong in Canada while others – including Indigenous people – do not. John A. Macdonald statues are prime examples. They celebrate the “greatness” of Macdonald while ignoring his role presiding over the largest land grab in the history of the British Empire and in creating the policies, including the residential schools, designed to destroy the political, cultural and social customs of Indigenous peoples. He was also the first person in the British Empire to organize political rights based on biologically-defined race when he took the right to vote any from anyone “of Mongolian or Chinese race” on grounds the Chinese threatened “the Aryan nature” of Canada.
Addressing these issues requires undoing the damage caused by people like Macdonald and remaking Canadian cultural landscapes to include everyone who makes up the country.”