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Queen's University to remove the name of Sir John A. Macdonald from law school building

The head from the statue of Sir John A. MacDonald is shown torn down following a demonstration in Montreal, Saturday, Aug 29, 2020, where people protested calling on the government to defund the police with a goal to end all systemic racism within all sectors of the Canadian government. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Graham Hughes THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Graham Hughes THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Graham Hughes

Queen’s University has decided to drop the name of Canada’s inaugural prime minister from one of their campus buildings.

The Queen’s Board of Trustees approved the decision to get rid of the name Sir John A. Macdonald from a law school building. The move was recommended by Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane following a public consultation and recommendations from the dean of faculty of law and a special advisory committee that was setup in response to an online petition calling for the change.

Deane says the decision supports the Kingston universities commitment to tackle systemic racism.

“The decision is grounded in the university’s present-day academic mission and commitment to honour the values of equity, diversity, and inclusivity and to ensure all students, faculty, and staff feel welcome within the Queen’s community.”

More than 3,000 Queen’s University community members were involved in the two-month consultation process. The advisory committee delivered a 65-page report recommending the name change.

The Dean of Faculty of Law Mark Walters says it was clear from the consultation that the name of the former prime minister sent conflicting messages that didn’t align with the universities goals to be an inclusive community where everyone feels welcome.

“Sir John A. Macdonald is rightly celebrated for his central role in the founding of modern Canada and the creation of our country’s constitution. However, a more complete understanding of his legacies has emerged in recent years. In particular, we now have a richer and better understanding of the hurtful views and policies he and his government advanced in relation to Indigenous peoples and racial minorities.”

Macdonald became the first prime minister of Canada in 1867 until 1873. He held the office again from 1878 through to 1891.

A key figure in the history of Canada, he his remembered for his important role in the formation of the country. However in recent years his legacy has been criticized as a result of many of his policies towards indigenous peoples.

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests across the globe as a result of the death of George Floyd in May, many Canadian protesters have been calling for the removal of statues and other monuments honouring the former Prime Minister.

In August a statue of Macdonald in Montreal was vandalized and destroyed. In 2018, the city of Victoria removed a statue of Macdonald outside of city hall as a move towards reconciliation with indigenous peoples.