Opinion: Public symbols of admiration for those who represent oppression should be eliminated – Regina Leader-Post

In 1883, the Macdonald government established a residential school system for Indigenous children. The effect of this was the infliction of terrible cultural, social and physical harm. This school policy tore families apart, destroyed their capacities for nurturing and giving emotional support, led to the loss of intergenerational transfer of culture and knowledge, ravaged social health and badly impaired social practices for building mutually empowering relationships.

When a political society like Canada comes to recognize the extent of the harms that, through its attitudes and political aims, it has inflicted, it becomes morally bound to express repentance in every literal and symbolic way that is possible and then to institute policies that will redress harms.

When harms are inflicted on distinct minority peoples and government policies lead to a history of suffering, the passage of time neither expunges the harm nor removes the responsibility for redress.

It is exactly the wrong thing to do to re-impose on the consciousness and the daily experience of those victims, and those who still carry the burden of egregious policies, the harms of those policies through the continuing celebration and honouring of those that brought about such injury. Their entitlement is simple and basic; it is not to have to endure public and physical symbols of admiration for historical figures who represent the oppression against which their communities have struggled for so long.

John Whyte is professor emeritus, politics and international studies, University of Regina

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Opinion: Public symbols of admiration for those who represent oppression should be eliminated - Regina Leader-Post

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