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Letters to the Editor

09/20/2017

Macdonald’s statue in Regina is a painful reminder

The Editor: The article “Confronting Macdonald’s racism with ‘acts of anger’ ” (PM, Sept. 6) was written in the context of Ontario where the Elementary Teachers’ Federation voted to remove John A. Macdonald’s name from schools and other buildings. In Regina the Saskatchewan Coalition Against Racism and Colonialism No More is calling for the removal of his statue from Victoria Park.

The article suggests that although Macdonald used starvation as a tool against indigenous peoples to clear the plains for settlement and was instrumental in establishing residential schools, his positive contributions are still worthy of celebration. The author concludes that our attention would be better focused on implementing the TRC recommendations and cites Justice Sinclair to argue that renaming buildings and removing statues are not productive.

Many who seek for the statue to be removed are people who understand deeply the painful effects of Macdonald’s policies. For myself as a settler, I feel the resistance to the statue's removal is symbolic of how Canadian’s are asking for a reconciliation that is on our own terms and in our control. We will listen to voices that agree with our opinions and put up a defense against those that invite us to be deeply transformed and changed.

Yet as I stand in judgment of our inability to accept the deeper invitation, I am very aware from my own experience how clinging to the familiar, however dysfunctional it is, is far less frightening than going into unknown territory. 

Often my anger and self-righteousness around confronting racism in myself and society fades into a grief that demands to be felt without compromise. Contemplatives of all traditions often refer to the process of emptying out (kenosis) in order to make room for the divine.

A teacher at an anti-racist institute had a poster on her wall "How far will you go?" To me this is not only a question about action, it is a question that is being asked of us by a still quiet voice underneath the wailing, relentless voice of our separate self identities. — Shannon Corkery, Regina