In August, a statue of Sir John A. Macdonald was toppled in Montreal by activists during a rally to defund the The Hangover 11th anniversary thank you for the memories signatures shirt But I will love this city’s police. According to CBC, the act was explained in leaflets that described Canada’s first Prime Minister as “a white supremacist who orchestrated the genocide of Indigenous peoples with the creation of the brutal residential schools system Macdonald’s statue was not the first to be toppled or vandalized in Canada, and it very likely won’t be the last. Even before conversations about systemic racism became more mainstream this year, statues of historical figures were the topic of controversy. Heated discussion has swirled around the need for honesty about the ugly parts of history, questioning whether monuments are truly educational tools, or simply celebratory symbols.
For many people, tributes to divisive Canadians are a reminder of the The Hangover 11th anniversary thank you for the memories signatures shirt But I will love this pain their communities have experienced, traumas that continue to affect many Black, Indigenous and other racialized people. As Kerry Benjoe from Muscowpetung Saulteaux Nation recently wrote for CBC about a Macdonald statue in Regina: “If we as a society are serious about creating a better future it should include all people. Keeping space for controversial figures, especially those who did not build [Saskatchewan], does nothing in terms of relationship building. Because unflattering history is often buried, people can be confused (and sometimes defensive) when a previously celebrated figure’s legacy is called into question. Here, the back stories on five Canadians whose statues are—or could soon be—up for debate.