LETTER – Taking John A. Macdonald’s name off schools a very small step

One of many statues of Sir John A. Macdonald.

Dear Mr. Armchair Mayor,

Your article today (Aug. 25, 2017), “Proposal to take Sir John A.’s name off schools is ridiculous” is, once again, offensive and completely tone-deaf.

By taking John A. Macdonald’s names off Canadian schools, we, as a country, are taking a very small step towards much needed equality. Combatting hatred is such a difficult task to tackle and we can only take small steps before big leaps are made.

No one is erasing anything. We are simply standing up for what we believe to be right as a country. History has been whitewashed for generations and we see that displayed quite obviously in places like the names of our schools.

Your quote, “We must, they say, erase (these figures) from public view and forget about them” is, quite frankly, uninformed and offensive. Taking people like Macdonald’s names from schools does nothing to “erase” the history or devalue positive things that they have accomplished. It simply acknowledges the fact that the wrong they have done outweighs the good and that we won’t tolerate it.

What you’re saying, is that Macdonald’s intolerance should be overlooked because of the good he has done. If you are so concerned about your own white history being preserved, consider that marginalized voices have had far fewer chances to have their story be told, let alone upheld through the naming of statues and schools.

If you really think you’re being constantly blasted by “PC culture”, imagine how marginalized people feel having to listen to the same stories and voices being heard over and over again, all while facing discrimination on a daily basis.

We are not “getting rid of anyone who said or did anything we might consider offensive”. Because the truth is, John A. Macdonald’s views toward First Nations people and residential schools aren’t offensive, they are simply wrong and completely hateful.

Should we really teach our future generations about equality and moving forward in schools named after people who didn’t uphold these ideals within themselves? Your views on history come from your own place of white privilege and stem from the harmful structures of white supremacy.

Your comments are among the same ones white supremacists in Charlottesville recently used to try and “preserve white history” in the United States. It is so important for us as white folks to stand up for people whose voices are not being heard and to speak out against racism and other forms of hatred within our communities. If you, a man with a large platform within the Kamloops media cannot do that for us, who will?

Try and leave space for the marginalized voices in our society to have their stories told. Your privilege is showing and I’m really sick of hearing about it.


About Mel Rothenburger (6119 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

6 Comments on LETTER – Taking John A. Macdonald’s name off schools a very small step

  1. Alan Forseth // August 29, 2017 at 6:37 AM // Reply

    Amongst all of the revisionist BS, and weeping and knashing of teeth over the past, it might be worth reading this piece?

  2. I totally agree with Mel, you cannot rewrite or whitewash history. It has all gotten ridiculous!!

  3. I believe this matter is as stated, “ridiculous”, you simply cannot go back and whitewash everything and if you can then I want reparations for being called a Nazi in Elementary school in Revelstoke simply because my father was a German National, adding to that I have been referred to as a Rules Nazi on the golf course, it is what it is at the time that it is happening (including the golf rules nazi) and you simply cannot go back and clean it up. Ridiculous!

  4. Pierre Filisetti // August 26, 2017 at 6:58 AM // Reply

    I really like your writing Carlin. Thank you for doing that!

  5. Cindy Ross Friedman // August 26, 2017 at 6:44 AM // Reply

    This ongoing discussion is critical in helping us all move towards truth. I am speaking from the position of a third-generation settler. Historians know that history is constantly being re-written as more facts and truths arise. More settlers like myself are realizing what John A. did, and with more facts in hand, I am definitely becoming more and more uneasy with colonial celebration. We became Canadians at a terrible cost — a genocide. This truth itself needs to be reconciled. Shifting worldviews is really hard, but we must challenge ourselves every day: could what the “other” be saying be right? Even the definition of “other” needs to be self-determined by someone other than me. I am actually in Newfoundland right now, and heck, I am even questioning the name of the province. The land was certainly not newly-found by humans, only by Europeans. It is critical at this juncture that everyone respectfully listen to each other’s point-of-view. The truth is out there.

  6. Seeing that none of us are perfect, let’s take the names of individuals off all schools, government buildings and office buildings across Canada. Then, what about street names?

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