LETTER: Reader appalled by lies propagated about SJAM

As a historian by training, I’m beyond appalled by the lies being propagated about John A. Macdonald. We clearly live in a country that has little or no interest in history and a local government that – being charitable – simply has no one to provide anything like decent advice about our history.

Without going into the subject of genocide etc.– yes, that did happen but it is not accurate to pin that on John A. We went through that whole debate in painstaking detail last year – in Round 1 about the Holding Court Statue. A lot of respected historians of that period weighed in on the subject and cooler – and better informed – heads prevailed. The statue was left where it was. Agreed.

What happened at many of the schools and at Kamloops was criminal. The crimes were committed by the people administering the schools. The country – Canada – is beyond imagination in terms of its size and diversity. At the time of Confederation,the population was estimated to be only slightly more than 1 million. And at that time there was simply no way schools could be monitored effectively.  Not by a brand new government trying to figure out how to unify 5 very different colonies, develop resources sufficient to withstand a perceived American threat, create a means of tying the hinterland – the west – to the rest of the country. What an incredible challenge faced the Macdonald government! So the idea of trying to bring children to education was – in hindsight – wrong.

But why on earth are people destroying statues of Egerton Ryerson and John A. Macdonald? Because they trusted the churches to run the schools properly? Fools that they were. Yes. So if groups want to punish the people who actually committed the crimes, why not punish the churches responsible? They were the ones who took the money to run the schools, to administer them properly – and they did not live up to their end of the bargain.  They did not make sure they were doing the job properly. They just took  the money and let all hell break loose.

But – well  – they are corporations and the statute of limitations has probably run out … No – keep it simple. Find a single, flawed human being to blame …John Macdonald, in this case.  Who died about the same time as that school opened.  Who cares about the truth? So long as we have a scapegoat, and an opportunity to rant about history, to lie about history. It is barely taught any more anyway – so who cares?

Lest we forget. Without Macdonald there would be NO Canada. Looking at what happened south of the border, where the extermination process was rather more thorough (not many protests there these days…), we very likely would all have been Americans. But perhaps that is what we really want to be?

Not me.


Mary Lazier Corbett