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.
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.
- RCI: Aug 20.18: Reconciliation or creating division (interview)
- RCI: Jun 18/18: Canada’s founder takes another hit
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.
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.