The statue of Sir John A Macdonald as it once stood in front of Victoria City Hall. Council decided to have it removed from public view in August 2018, as an act of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples (Mike McArthur/CBC)

More on the Macdonald controversy in Canada

In recent years there has been much media attention to groups seeking to change the historic narrative of the founder of Canada, Sir John A Macdonald.

Because of his involvement in creating the residential school system there have been calls to remove his statues, and remove his name from schools and institutions, and awards.

That system removed aboriginal children from their families to often distant residential schools to teach them the ways of the larger “modern” Canadian society. In fact it led to great abuse, physical, sexual, and emotional, and generations of problems for Canada’s indigenous communities.

The Macdonald statue in Victoria being hauled away. The city’s decision to remove was promoted as an effort at “reconciliation” with indigenous groups but only pushed the debate to a more heated level (Megan Thomas-CBC)

Apart what specific groups think about Macdonald’s legacy, a new poll looks at what the wider Canadian society thinks

The Angus Reid Institute found that most Canadians think that highlighting the tragedy of the residential schools should not come at the expense of memorials to the founder of the country.

Angus Reid Inst- survey Sep 2018

While statues of Macdonald have been vandalised by anonymous marginal groups, the issue came into an even wider national discussion when the west coast city of Victoria decided to have a statue of our first Prime Minister removed from in front of city hall, and put into storage.

Some 55 per cent of Canadians opposed the move, and only 25 per cent agreed.

As to the whole issue of residential schools, about six in ten (57%) say too much time is spent apologising for this past episode. About a third (31%) say the harm continues and can’t be ignored. The remaining 12 per cent aren’t sure.

August this year saw the third time the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald in downtown Montreal has been vandalised with paint since November 2017. This time the vandals released a message saying it was in sympathy with the removal of the Macdonald statue in Victoria, B.C. (Stéphane Grégoire/Radio-Canada)

Recently Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would create a national holiday to remember the tragedy of the residential schools.

The poll asked Canadians about this and the response was about even for a statutory holiday, or non-statuatory “day of remembrance”.

Although somewhat more controversial, 51 per cent support a statutory “National Day for Truth and Reconciliation” (35% oppose), while 53 percent support a non-statutory “Day of Remembrance” for truth and reconciliation (30% oppose).

Although there is a clear majority support for maintaining public presence of Sir John A Macdonald statues and institutional names, it is unlikely the debate will end anytime soon.

Additional information -source

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