Humanities 10

April 18th, 2018

Fulfilling our Canadian Duties: Macdonald Must Stay

The deeply rooted struggle to find our Canadian identity can be dated back to John A. Macdonald, one of Canada’s founding fathers, and his controversial yet progressive ideas. As Canadians, it is our duty to learn about the past in attempts of learning about what it means to be Canadian, and bettering the future. Many people consider Sir John A. Macdonald to be a progressive person who thought much ahead of his time by including women into future voting systems, while others see him as a Prime Minister who abused his power to create discriminatory laws mainly against Chinese and Indigenous peoples. Regardless, by understanding the fact that one cannot judge past events with present values and that the country’s past cannot be overlooked, Macdonald’s legacy possesses a place in the communal sphere.


By understanding that John A. Macdonald’s actions were intended to benefit the people of Canada, one realizes that past events cannot be judged with modern principles. John A. Macdonald’s efforts to create Indigenous Residential schools was to maintain the greater good of society in mind, and that his goal was to tie the Indigenous peoples into civilization. Macdonald, by our principles, can be considered a racist for his role in the Indian Act, a continuous topic of disputation of laws that Indigenous peoples had to abide by, but “so were most Canadians back then” (Hopper). When studying the creation of Residential schools, it is important to recognize that John A. Macdonald meant well. One of the purposes of creating Residential schools was to make it easier for the Indigenous peoples to find jobs in the community. His efforts to create one larger society shows that principles are constantly evolving with the community, therefore an individual shouldn’t assess past events with contemporary ethics.


On the other hand, some argue that since society doesn’t operate under the values of the past anymore, modernizing communities should be welcomed to ensure the maximum comfort for everyone. While it is true the contentment of each member of a community is important, the freedom to learn about the country in which one lives is equally if not more critical. From being Canada’s first Prime Minister, to creating a railway that bonds together the coasts of Canada, Macdonald is undoubtedly most responsible for the creation of Canada. Some youth today still use race as a way to show superiority, stating offensive claims such as, “go back to reservation [if you hate Canada so much]”, but the youth population cannot learn about Canada’s past mistakes and wrong-doings if they are pushed under a dust mat (Dimaline). By removing Macdonald’s contributions from the public demographic, the licence to learn willingly is minimized, especially for those who come from a more poverty-stricken background. Private sectors aren’t always accessible to everyone. Does this mean that Canada’s past should be diminished because of one’s economic class? The removal of John A. Macdonald’s figure from the public sphere has many negative repercussions on the future of Canada since the purpose of studying history is to be able to recognize wrongdoings and take preventative measures for the future to avoid repeating the past.


The case for Macdonald’s removal from the public sphere stands with the convenience of the people; however, his stance in the public sphere is important in such that it is necessary to keep Canada’s future as the number one forefront. Furthermore, coming to the comprehension that determining whether an event of the past was morally right shouldn’t be reached using the current standards, and the importance of acknowledging a country’s past leads to an overall deeper understanding of history; because of this, the purpose of learning about history is what makes it vital that John A. Macdonald’s name stays in the public scope. As individuals living in Canada, we must grow an understanding for Canada’s past in order to celebrate successes, learn from mistakes, ensure history doesn’t repeat, and make our country not just survive, but thrive.

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