A Founder of Oppression
Savage, Indian, Aryan. Derogatory names used to describe indigenous people, uttered by one of Canada’s own founding fathers. John A. Macdonald was not only a creator of confederation, but was the creator of the ongoing spiral of maltreatment experienced by indigenous people today. Nonetheless, despite his list of political achievements, the horrible things he did paired with his actions being constantly justified, is more than enough evidence to have him removed from the public sphere.
Even if John A. Macdonald’s actions could be vindicated, it by no means justify the way that his legacy is handled today. There are many indigenous peoples and children having to experience the same unstoppable spiral of oppression Macdonald had created as their grandparents, almost as a sort of déjà vù: “We are still affected by racism, both systemic and violent […] Colonization didn’t happen 400 years ago; it began 400 years ago and continues today. Right now” (Dimaline,1) Dimaline states. Indigenous people aren’t asking for Macdonald to be removed from history, nor for anyone to feel guilty about something they couldn’t have controlled. They are asking for a safe environment that their children can learn in without having their perpetrator’s name scrawled across their planners and school uniforms. They are asking for the proper respect and recognition of the events he fostered instead of the glorification of his figure through statues, honorary namings of public spaces; furthermore, Dimaline says: “Let’s teach our children about Macdonald, not make them line up under his banner” (Dimaline, 3).
This being said, many people still believe that Macdonald’s actions can be set aside because of the concrete contributions he’s allocated leading to the creation of Canada as a whole. However, allowing John A. Macdonald to be presented as ‘racist on the side’ devalues the idea and weight of racism and oppression that many have faced. Even though the common values of the past aren’t comparable to ours: “Macdonald admitted that he was supporting the policy largely because he was running a country full of racists” (Hopper, 1) keeping statues of his figure erect further perpetuates the idea that someone who oppresses groups of people can be successful when they shouldn’t be. Furthermore, in order for even the simplest matters to be put to an end, it is important that we stop lauding and justifying John A. Macdonald’s actions. Even though John A. Macdonald’s achievements are a key element of Canada’s history, he should be seen as a racist first and a founding father second.
John A. Macdonald was a founding father of Canada, but this by no means vindicates him of his actions. Despite his political achievements, his wrongdoings paired with his actions being constantly justified is plenty reason for him to be removed from the public sphere. Without action, the ongoing spiral of hate indigenous people have faced will only continue to worsen. Do we really want our future to be influenced by the past?