Editor’s note: This article has been changed to identify Jennifer Campbell as a city staff member, and not a member of the working group.
Monday evening’s emergency Sir John A. Macdonald working group’s meeting resulted in all of its members agreeing to recommend the immediate removal of the statue from City Park.
The group is made up of Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members who say they work to address issues specific to the first prime minister’s history and legacy.
“If you’re gonna take it down, you might wanna take it down as soon as you can, as soon as possible,” said Chief Dave Mowat of Alderville First Nation.
The group agreed that where the statue would go after its placed in storage would be an ongoing community discussion, but for now, the statue should go.
Elsewhere, as other members suggested, could be in a museum where the entire legacy of Sir John A. Macdonald is outlined to include his part in the establishment of residential schools.
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“I can’t handle him being on a pedestal. I can’t handle him being so high above the normal human being that walks by,” said working group member Laurel Claus-Johnson.
At the meeting, group members say they’ve been meeting since March to brainstorm ways to accurately share Macdonald’s history, but the discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous children in unmarked graves at a former residential school in B.C. is speeding up the process.
As more and more statues come down throughout the country, residents in Kingston put pressure on city council to do the same.
“I do feel though that the forces are going to pull it down. So Kingston needs to be at the forefront of that,” said Chief Mowat.
The city of Kingston’s manager of cultural heritage Jennifer Campbell said following discussions Monday night that the group had established several options on how to move forward.
“With a timeline established for additional discussion about the intent with the statue, and that might include further consideration about the permanent removal of the base. It could include the re-instillation of the statue elsewhere,” said Campbell.
These options will be presented at Wednesday’s special council meeting. City council ultimately has final say on the fate of the statue, but has agreed to take the working group’s recommendations into consideration.