History Should Be Truthful

by sstelmaschuk,

While there is no doubt that Macdonald played his role in the Confederation of Canada and oversaw many developments in his role as our first Prime Minister, it is beyond harmful to attempt to only focus on the 'positives' of his role in history while trying to deny the harm that he had done at the same time.


Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell, who himself stands as a controversial figure for his harsh policies towards the Irish during his reign, is often quoted that when he had his portrait done he wanted the painter to paint him 'warts and all'. Macdonald, and indeed all of our historical figures, must be painted with the same brush. This is not historical revisionism; it is not 'cancel culture'; it is not applying modern standards to historical actions.

It is about accuracy. It is about ensuring that we avoid a pratfall of creating a glorified mythology of our past. We should be able to acknowledge that for the good that was achieved by an individual, you must also acknowledge the ills and evils that they committed as well. This is not 'character assassination', it is fact.

The simple fact is that Macdonald's legacy towards Indigenous people is downright shocking, shameful, and should be a significant mark on his historical standing. There can be no doubt, when looking at his own words and actions, that he undertook a willing action in a systemic attempt to destroy the culture, traditions, and very essence of the Indigenous people who called this land home prior to colonization.

And while these actions and their harm cannot ever be undone, we can strive to do better by acknowledging this part of Macdonald's Legacy and vowing to learn from it as we move forward into the future. The statue is not just a statue; it is a symbol. But it does not symbolize Macdonald's Legacy or place in history; instead, it symbolizes our continued refusal to acknowledge the pain and harm caused historically, and indeed even to this day, in this country.

Then let us replace this symbol with a new one; an action of hope and healing that shows we are committed to learning from the mistakes of the past and pledged to working together to build something better into the future. Taking this statue down can be that symbol and a step on our road to actual Reconciliation.