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Letter to the Editor

Response to ‘A statue is not history’

Dear Editor,

To start with, a statue is a reminder of our history, we just need to set the record straight. Next, I do not think you were “taught about the Residential Schools”. I think you heard about them when you reached an age when it could mean something, and I would not be surprised to learn your reaction was a mere “Really? I didn’t know that”.

Mistakes were made in the past, some more dishonourable than others, but only according to today’s morals and expectations. That in itself does not justify them, but neither does that justify berating and dishonouring a figure of our glorious past. The key is to learn from our mistakes. For that we need to educate adults and children so as not to repeat them in any ways, for any apparently and momentarily justifiable reason.

If you wish to explore the darkest hours of Canada’s history, what do you know, “Mrs. Dansereau” about the near successful genocide of the French culture & language in Canada? The time when it was forbidden (but in Québec) to teach French speaking children in their mother tongue. What about the forced expulsion and confinement of Japanese in Canada during WW2? What about the many immigrants enticed to come to Canada only to be left to themselves once they do? What about the legalized slavery of temporary workers in Canada? What about today’s discrimination against the sons and daughters of escaped US slaves? And many other hidden, as shameful, occurrences today and over the history of our beloved Canada?

By the way, the “Alberta Five” have their statues on Parliament Hill. Nellie McClung even has admittedly a modest park named after her in Edmonton. Did you know – amongst other claims they made – their struggle to get the right to vote was for “educated women” only? Even today most voting women are not part of the elite. Should we also tear down and recast those statues?

I do not doubt your intention was good, but it was wrongly expressed. Nova-Scotia and Manitoba have embraced that shameful period of their past by turning those schools in historic sites where visitors can learn the reasoning and the consequences of these schools. That is the difference between pouring vinegar on an open wound (what you did IMHO) and working towards reconciliation.

That, in my opinion, is a positive endeavour.

-René Ladsous