Ottawa is facing increased pressure from Indigenous advocates to look at historic figures celebrated in Canada after an Ontario teachers’ group passed a motion to remove Sir John A. Macdonald’s name from elementary schools in the province.
NDP MP and Indigenous affairs critic Romeo Saganash says a much bigger conversation needs to unfold about the role of historic figures in the “dark realities of colonialism.”
Saganash, a residential school survivor, was supportive of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to remove the name of Hector-Louis Langevin, a father of Confederation, from the Ottawa building that houses the Prime Minister’s Office.
Trudeau made the announcement in June after Indigenous MPs and Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde called for the change because Langevin was an architect of the residential school system.
Bellegarde says he commends the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario for its motion, noting he is encouraged Canadians are acknowledging prominent leaders like Macdonald did not always have a respectful relationship with Indigenous Peoples.
A spokesperson for Heritage Minister Melanie Joly says the government must “seize this opportunity” to acknowledge Canada’s past, adding it will listen and engage with Indigenous groups on how to best correct historical wrongs.