RELEASE — Last night, Kingston City Council voted in favour of removing the Sir John A. Macdonald statue from City Park and relocating it to Cataraqui Cemetery, a National Historic Site where Sir John A. Macdonald is buried.
“After careful consideration, City Council voted to remove and relocate the statue from City Park to the Kingston Cataraqui Cemetery. Engagement with the public will continue throughout the process,” says Mayor Bryan Paterson. “This was a difficult decision, and the outcome will not appease everyone. However, the hope is that with this compromise we signal to the community, one with very divergent views on this matter, that we’re committed to continued dialogue about the legacy of Sir John A. Macdonald in Kingston. We recognize the pain that the statue inflicts on the Indigenous community in its current location, we understand the legacy of Sir John A. is complex, and we want to move forward in a way that encourages community, conversation, healing, and education towards the shared path of reconciliation.”
Kingston is widely recognized as Sir John A. Macdonald’s hometown and is uniquely positioned to engage with his history and legacy from a local perspective and in ways that resonate nationally as well. The City is committed to working with Indigenous Peoples, communities and Nations and all residents to pursue a united path of reconciliation and has been participating in ongoing discussions and consultation with multiple community members and organizations, including members of the Indigenous community, regarding the legacy of Sir John A. Macdonald.
Over the last several weeks, calls from Indigenous community members and non-Indigenous allies have asked that Council take clear action and remove the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald from City Park. Others have called for the statue to remain in place and for Council to recommit to the adding of interpretive plaques/text to expand the historic narrative shared in relationship to the statue – an initiative that was already underway.
Following last nigh Council’s decision, the public can expect that there will be activity at City Park starting today to mobilize equipment and secure the site in order to proceed with the removal of the Sir John A. Macdonald statue. The removal is expected to take place on Friday morning starting at 6 a.m. and take several hours.
The statue will initially be stored while the City facilitates an engagement process between the Cataraqui Cemetery and the Indigenous communities prior to its installation within the Cataraqui Cemetery.
City staff are expected to report back to Council on August 10th with details on engagement for the statue’s installation as well as next steps for new interpretive intentions for its previous location at City Park.
The Council Report presented to City Council on June 16 (https://www.cityofkingston.ca/residents/city-calendar-events/-/calendar/QUmzuR567ExT/event/38961518) , 2021 offers further background information on reconciliation initiatives such as Engage for Change (https://www.cityofkingston.ca/explore/culture-history/history/engage-for-change) , which is a multi-phase project that seeks to re-frame the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous people in Kingston, especially as it relates to history, knowledge and culture.