Over the next eight weeks, an advisory committee will be deliberating over whether to rename the faculty of law building, currently named after Sir John A. Macdonald.
The building has been named after Canada’s first prime minister since it opened in 1960, but over the last several years, Macdonald’s legacy has come into question, especially in Kingston, where he lived most of his life.
Just recently, the city of Kingston undertook a public engagement project where it gauged how locals felt about the representation of Macdonald in the city. This led to the removal of plaques commemorating the Kingston figure, opting for plaques that would tell a more complete history of the man.
Protesters also routinely call for the removal of Macdonald’s statue in Kingston City Park, although the city has maintained that the statue will remain.
In response to these considerations, Queen’s has created an advisory committee that will work for the next two months to decide whether the hall’s name will be changed.
“Macdonald’s legacy is complex. He is known as our first prime minister and for being instrumental in the formation of Canada, but the public has become increasingly aware of — and concerned with — how his policies negatively impacted Indigenous peoples,” Mark Walters, dean, Queen’s University faculty of law, said in a press release.
The committee will be made up of students, faculty, staff, and alumni, and will consider views from the community before presenting their recommendations to the dean of law. The dean will then offer his recommendation to the principal of the university, who in turn will offer his recommendation to the university’s board of trustees, which will have the ultimate say in the renaming process.
Queen’s says there will also be opportunities for oral submissions, which will be announced soon.