What’s in a name? Plenty if you’re Queen’s University and your law building is named after Canada’s first prime minister. Sir John A. Macdonald‘s name is coming off the Union Street facility in Kingston, Ont.
After months of discussion and now approval by the school’s board of trustees the Macdonald name will become history at least on the Queen’s campus. The decision was announced Monday, Oct. 19.
Mark Walters, dean of Queen’s Law School, explains the move.
“I think in the end they came around and clearly accepted the idea that if the university is serious really about the objective of reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and the value of diversity and inclusivity at Queen’s this really was the right thing to do.”
Removing Macdonald’s name is long overdue according to at least one law professor. Nick Bala is a graduate of the Queen’s law school and has taught there for 40 years.
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“Sir John certainly was by the standards of his century, I think, a relatively progressive and very, very important figure — but this is a law school of the 21st century and we want it to be a welcoming environment for all of our students.”
Janice Hill, associate vice-principal of Indigenous initiatives, said in a media release: “During this era of truth and reconciliation, it’s important to consider how we move forward together with a good mind and in peace for the greater good for all peoples.”
“As Haudenosaunee, we are taught in our decision making to reflect on and be mindful of the past while considering the impact on future generations. This decision affirms that Queen’s is headed in that direction in terms of creating a safe and equitable space where each member of the community has a strong sense of belonging. As we continue to dismantle these colonial symbols, we get closer to achieving an inclusive community for all.”
As for a new name, the process and timeline are still unclear.