In a special meeting of Kingston city council, municipal politicians heard from community members from both sides of the highly-charged debate concerning the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald to stay in City Park.
“I’m here to ask you not to tear down the statue of a Kingstonian but to stand up for the greatest Kingstonian in history,” Mark O’Farrell said to council during his delegation.
There were also those calling for its removal.
“Removing glorification (of) John A represents demonstrates an intention to want to move forward in a way that honours and respects our dignity,” Natasha Stirrett told councillors during her delegation.
Councillors eventually voted to relocate the monument to the first Prime Minister’s gravesite in the city’s west end.
Mayor Bryan Paterson says ever since the remains of 215 indigenous children were found at the site of a former residential school near Kamloops, the statue has become too polarizing to stay where it is.
“I think in recognition of those that say, just given the legacy of residential schools and given the pain and trauma around, that you know we wanted to be responsive to that piece,” Paterson said.
Zoogipon Ikwe is part of a group of the individuals that have been at MacDonald’s statue calling for its removal ever since the tragic discovery near Kamloops.
“This is a city park and it should be for everyone and it should be a safe space for everyone, so removing that statue is creating safe space here,” Ikwe said.
But she says she’s not sure how she feels about the statue being relocated to Macdonald’s grave site in Kingston’s Cataraqui cemetery.
“They have mentioned that he will go temporarily into storage and then there will be some consultation happening around the working committee and the Indigenous community, I hope. And then we can talk about that as an option,” Ikwe said.
The city says the statue will be removed early Friday morning.
“It will probably be temporarily stored just while we work out the details with Cataraqui Cemetery,” Paterson said. “They’ve also asked for facilitation and consultation with the indigenous community to make sure that’s something everyone’s comfortable with.”
It’s not yet clear what that consultation will look like or whether there will be a widespread agreement with moving the controversial monument to a quieter part of the city.