Reassessing Our Heroes. An excerpt:
What do we do with our heroes from the past when we discover their flaws? What shall we do with the monuments to their achievements when the latter seem overshadowed by their errors?
Like so many Canadians, I was horrified to learn of the discovery of 215 unmarked graves of aboriginal children on the premises of a residential school in Kamloops, B.C. Soon after this grisly discovery, students at Ryerson University in Toronto upended a statue of Egerton Ryerson, a 19th-century Methodist leader who contributed to the formation of common public schools in Upper Canada and of “Indian” residential schools. As I write, Hamiltonians are debating the removal of statues of Queen Victoria and Sir John A. Macdonald in Gore Park downtown, because of the role they played in setting federal policy towards aboriginal Canadians.
What then do we do with our all too fallible heroes from the past? We cannot pretend that Macdonald was not our first prime minister and that he did not do much to create the country we love and to which we are loyal. In this respect, Macdonald is no different from other respected figures from the past who have shaped the world we live in.