The debate about whether to remove the MacDonald statue should lead all of us to take a long look in the mirror.
As a baseline, do we first have our facts straight about Macdonald’s intentions and actions regarding indigenous peoples so that we are sure about what he is responsible for?
And, then, where does this all end?
Our town of Picton is named after Sir Thomas Picton who,despite being a good soldier, was found guilty of approving the torture of a 14-year-old slave girl. Right now, a statue of Picton is being removed in Cardiff, Wales because of his “abhorrent behaviour”.
Can we all smugly still feel good about our town bearing the name of a man who abused slaves after we have removed MacDonald’s statue for his indiscretions?
And what do we do about continuing to favourably recognize William Macaulay, the Macaulay Museum and Macaulay Park when we realize that he was influential in securing the name of Picton for our town over Hallowell?
Did Macaulay know about Picton’s indiscretions, but support his name anyway?
Once the snowball starts rolling, it is hard to stop!
Certainly there is a need to accompany the MacDonald statue with an explanation of the different perspectives on his treatment of indigenous peoples. Addressing sensitivities by also removing it to a less prominent location is also a possibility, but doing so could significantly reduce the opportunity for a valuable teaching moment. Rather than changing or removing history, we need to confront it and learn from it so that we don’t make the same mistakes going forward.
Everyone on both sides of this issue should want to grasp this opportunity.