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Kingston hosts workshops to gather complete history of Sir John A. Macdonald — including impact on Indigenous peoples

Click to play video: 'City of Kingston hosts workshops aimed at addressing Sir John A. MacDonald’s controversial history' City of Kingston hosts workshops aimed at addressing Sir John A. MacDonald’s controversial history
The City of Kingston is working toward telling a more inclusive and complete history of Canada's first prime minister – Oct 16, 2019

A small group of Kingston residents turned up at Portsmouth Olympic Harbour to give their input on Sir John A. Macdonald’s legacy.

This latest round of consultations is part of a project called “Your Stories, Our Histories,” which started just over a year ago.

Jennifer Campbell, the city’s manager of cultural heritage, says the workshops are just one way the municipality has been gathering input.

“All year we’ve been receiving feedback online, at city hall, we held a panel discussion at the Grand Theatre on the 17th of September.”

That feedback is being used to tell a more inclusive and comprehensive history of Canada’s first prime minister.

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Tackling Macdonald’s involvement in residential schools and its impact on Indigenous peoples is arguably the most important part of the exercise.

Campbell says the work done over the last year has been about gathering input from all segments of the population.

“We’ve invited everyone,” she said. “Yes, Indigenous community members have joined us at a number of the consultation events and submitted comments and ideas.”

Part of these conversations also includes the impacts that continued long past MacDonald’s lifetime, Campbell said.

“Some of those are very traumatic and have lasting trauma in the community today, so we need to create space to do that in the right way.”

The information gathered will form a report that will go to city council sometime in early 2020, says Campbell.

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That report will include recommendations on the next steps, she added.

“So if we are talking about adding historical elements or interpretive panels, we do expect that would require very specific consultation with representative community members.”

That broad theme also includes raising awareness and increasing knowledge about indigenous culture and history in the community.

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The workshops organized by the municipality run Oct. 16 and 17.

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