It is hard to avoid Sir John A. MacDonald when living in or visiting Kingston. When walking downtown it is inevitable that you will stumble across a plaque denoting a place where he once lived or worked, there are pubs commemorating his life here and tours dedicated to him. He spent a good part of his life living in this city and, for better or worse, Sir John is an integral part of Kingston’s identity.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to Sir John A. MacDonald. While many Kingstonians are proud to call our city the home of Canada’s first Prime Minister, many also feel it is important to recognize the less than savoury acts committed by Sir John during his time as the leader of our country.
This discussion is making its way further into the spotlight with the upcoming Bicentennial commemoration in the works for the week of January 6th-11th 2015. While the bicentennial recognizes the great things Sir John did to further the development of Canada, many are hoping to shed more light onto some of his failures that include racism against Asians and First Nations people, alcoholism, and a money scandal during the building of the railway.
In an effort to open up this discussion, this Friday, November 14th and Saturday November 15th, The 16th Annual Symposium on Indigenous Research: Critical Indigenous Reflections on Sir John A. MacDonald, will host panel discussions that focus on the Prime Minister in relation to issues of Canadian nationalism, Métis relations, government policies and artistic intervention. Kingston musical collective The Gertrudes, along with Kingston writer Sadiqa Khan and indigenous filmmaker Amanda Strong, will present their collaborative project: “Of One Almighty Nation”. The project seeks to reflect on the latter portion of a question asked by award-winning journalist, scholar and Sir John A Macdonald Bicentennial Commissioner, Arthur Milnes. This week we pose the same question:
The hopeful outcome of this two day seminar and today’s poll question is not to create controversy, but rather to broaden the conversation without becoming divisive. While many agree that Sir John’s questionable actions leave a dark mark on Canadian history, it is difficult to ignore his leadership in the founding of the Dominion of Canada. How did you vote? Drop off your thoughts below.
This weekend’s seminar is presented by Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre and will take place at Robert Sutherland Hall at Queen’s University. The seminar is open to all and free to attend. You can hear the new Gertrudes track, being premiered on Friday evening, here.
Thanks to Mark Blevis for today’s photo.