Debate over renaming N.S. high school reopens as other institutions remove Sir John A. moniker
UPPER TANTALLON, N.S. -- The decision to remove the name of Canada's first prime minister from a building at Ontario's Queens University has reopened a debate in the Maritimes.
A question that's been a grey cloud hanging over Sir John A. Macdonald High School in Upper Tantallon, N.S., is about to get more attention: Should the name of the school be changed?
"Honestly, it's kind of inappropriate to have the name as it is, considering the history of it," said Grade 12 student Eliyana Bugbee. "I support it being changed."
The history of Sir John A. Macdonald includes being a father of Confederation as well as creating the residential school system and imposing a head tax on Chinese immigrants.
At Sir John A. Macdonald High School, changing the name of the school has frequently been a topic of discussion.
"I feel like it's going to be a rough topic for a lot of people to change, but it seems like it might be a good idea in the long run," said Grade 12 student Clayton Parker.
The topic of changing the name came up earlier in the month at a school advisory council meeting. The Halifax Regional Centre for Education says a final decision on how to go forward is still being determined.
Historian Daniel Paul sat on the committee that saw the Edward Cornwallis name removed from locations around the Halifax Regional Municipality and says it's time for Sir John A. Macdonald to be given the same treatment.
"In my opinion, the vast majority of Nova Scotians are willing to proceed with an open mind, and if they are properly informed I imagine that they would come to the conclusion that in the case of Sir John A. Macdonald, he should be relegated to the history books and kept there."
Queens University in Kingston, Ont., revealed on Tuesday that it would remove his name from its law school building.
In Charlottetown, city council made a unanimous decision in June to keep a statue of Sir John A. Macdonald sitting on a bench downtown.
"To completely remove a historical record from a public place, we run the risk of just erasing history altogether," said University of Ottawa historian Pierre Anctil.
It's a debate happening in the Maritimes and across the country and some say the key is finding the line between historical recognition and celebration.
In the case of Charlottetown, the council said in keeping the statue it would try to display the history of Sir John A. Macdonald in a proper historical context.