The Sir John A. Macdonald statue being removed from Victoria’s City Hall. (Black Press Media file photo)

Rickter Scale: Where art thou, Sir John A?

The Rickter Scale is a regular column

An open letter to Victoria’s mayor and council.

It’s been almost 18 months since a statue of one of the founding fathers of our country was hoisted onto a flatbed outside city hall and kicked out of sight to a chorus mixed with jeers and cheers.

It’s not my aim to regurgitate the circumstances that led to his abrupt departure, although they included decisions by a quasi-secret committee and removal arrangements that were arguably arranged in advance of council’s official decision to kiss Sir John A. MacDonald goodbye.

Nor do I want to fan the flames of speculation as to Mr. MacDonald’s current address, although the corner of the mayor’s closet or the backyard of a councillor are locations considered by this mischievous mind.

We can all agree that Sir John was a product of his time that treated Indigenous peoples in a manner that flies in the face of everything we stand for today. It’s also fair to acknowledge that his guiding hand on the rudder played a significant role in steering us to nationhood.

READ MORE: Rickter Scale

What’s at issue is how we decide to deal with the warts of bigotry, racism and injustice that will always blot our history, no matter how many statues we banish or how many monuments and schools we race to rename. The question we must grapple with is what is gained by that. Does erasing reminders of past transgressions ensure they are never repeated? Efforts to address them long after the fact are exercises in futility, misguided attempts to unburden our conscience so we can sleep soundly with a smug smile on our face.

There is a solution to this current conundrum, however, that has the power to unite us and, equally important, assuage all concerns in a manner that prevents the wounds of the past from being reopened or repeated.

Strap Sir John A. back onto a truck and erect him in a prominent place in Beacon Hill Park where he will be seen every day by people from around the world. Finding the perfect place shouldn’t be a problem, depending on how many committees are formed to work through the process.

Create a base big enough to dwarf the statue that bears prominent plaques inscribed with the languages of the Songhees and Esquimalt peoples. Include translations in English, French, Cantonese, Mandarin, Russian; the more who read the message, the merrier.

“Here is the statue of Sir John A. MacDonald, which was removed from Victoria City Hall on July 11, 2018, as part of ongoing efforts at reconciliation with survivors of the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations, on whose land we gratefully stand. Although MacDonald is still revered by some as a founding father of Canada, he was a deeply flawed individual who subjected Indigenous peoples to many injustices that go against everything we stand for today. Please take a few moments to learn more about the history of the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations. This is another step we take together in our journey to ensure the mistakes of the past never again stain our history as we move forward toward a future that embraces each and every one of us in unequivocal equality.”

Rick Stiebel is a semi-retired local journalist.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Rickter Scale

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

“Isolation is normal for us,” says Saanich dad with cystic fibrosis

Gordon Head man says now’s the time to approve life-saving cystic fibrosis drug

Victoria business still busy as people turn to books while in self-isolation

Russell Books says certain genres have gained popularity during COVID-19

Farmers’ markets still open in Greater Victoria

The Moss Street and Esquimalt Farmers’ markets are scheduled to take place, with slight variations

Victoria police warns of text, vacation rental COVID-19 fraud attempts

Frauds appearing online, in text messages and through vacation rentals

Development and building applications in Victoria can now be submitted online

Victoria mayor moves daily update to 2:30 p.m. every weekday

COVID-19: A message from the publisher

We will be making some changes to our print editions during these unprecedented times

B.C. VIEWS: Small businesses need our help

Just as integral in neighbourhoods in Vancouver and Surrey as they are in Prince George or Kelowna

‘Tremendous’ response from blood donors has supply keeping pace with demand

About 400,000 of Canada’s 37 million residents give blood on a regular basis

Morning world update: Cases surge past 600,000; positive news in Germany

Spain suffers its deadliest day as Germany considers April 20 to possibly loosen restrictions

VIDEO: Penguins roam empty halls of Vancouver Aquarium

COVID-19 has forced the Vancouver Aquarium to close access to guests – leaving room for its residents

COVID-19: Qualicum Beach youngster gets car parade for his sixth birthday

Friends get creative after party cancelled due to ongoing pandemic

Kids get back to learning in B.C., online

Ministry of Education rolls out new tool for school

Most Read