While vandalism may not be the most moral method of protest, it certainly has raised awareness about Sir John A. Macdonald’s legacy in Kingston.
In the past few weeks, the statue of Sir John A. has been spray-painted with words such as “colonizer” and “murderer,” while two historic plaques in front of his former homes have been covered in red paint.
It’s no surprise that, as an important symbolic figure for Kingston, Sir John A. would be targeted by those who disagree with the ‘glorious’ legacy he’s left behind.
As the first Prime Minister of Canada, he lived and worked in Kingston, leaving the city with a strong historic legacy.
Through the Tourism Office and countless initiatives, such as the Bicentennial Commission, Sir John A. has been glorified.
The plaques and statue that were vandalized form part of this narrative surrounding Sir John A.
Vandalism in this case was an extreme measure, to say the least. More legal and moderate alternatives could’ve been taken to protest his legacy.
For example, the recent legal Idle No More protests that took place in Kingston on Jan 11 still attracted over 200 people. Their message was effectively conveyed even though they didn’t resort to more extreme forms of protest.
The vandals, however, have raised awareness throughout the community — an important step that shows the relative success of their act. While many have reacted with outrage, it’s undeniable that a spotlight has been shone on who Sir John A. was. What was his relationship like with Aboriginal people in Canada? Does he deserve to be called a murderer and colonizer?
Hopefully, the Kingston community will raise these questions as a result of these events.
While the vandalism shouldn’t continue, government and the organizations in Kingston in charge of commemorating Sir John A. should work to ensure that the history presented to tourists and Kingstonians about the politician is fair and historically accurate.
Vandalism is a condemnable and illegal act, but it has worked in this case — attention has been brought to a historical figure’s legacy.
Hopefully it will spark a larger conversation and bring fruitful results in portraying a more honest history in the city.
— Journal Editorial Board
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