City statement on legacy of Sir John A. Macdonald and engagement with the Indigenous community

June 9, 2021

The City of Kingston issued a statement today to inform the public of ongoing its discussions and engagement with community members and organizations, including members of the Indigenous community, regarding the legacy of Sir John A. Macdonald.

“This is an important community conversation. I can assure you that staff, councillors, and myself are listening to all of your comments and feedback and we’re committed to working with Kingstonians to find the best path forward,” says Mayor Bryan Paterson.

“We know that community members are re-examining what that path forward looks like since we learned that 215 children have been found in unmarked graves near Kamloops, B.C. and all of us as Canadians must learn more and seek truth as a commitment to reconciliation.”

They City stated that until last night, City Hall and Springer Market Square were illuminated orange nightly in memory of the 215 Indigenous children whose remains were found at a former residential school near Kamloops, while a community-driven memorial comprised of pairs of shoes and medicines was placed on the steps of Kingston City Hall to honour those children.

The City further added that the recent discovery in Kamloops further highlights the importance of its ongoing work with the First Peoples Group on the Engage for Change project as well as community consultations with First Nations that have historical and enduring connections to this region.

Immediate And Longer-Term Actions

In it's media release, the City highlighted some immediate and longer-term actions and strategies that have been pursued in relation to representing local history in a more inclusive way, including:

  • redevelopment of the book plaques beside the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald in City Park and Engine 1095 in Confederation Park, to tell a more complete and inclusive account of their histories in a Kingston context (see “Working Group” details, below);

  • addition of a land recognition statement to the footer of the City of Kingston website (completed); and

  • naming of The Third Crossing in a way that reflects and celebrates the stories and contributions of Indigenous communities in this region, both past and present (underway).

About The Working Group

Although the City is actively involved in ongoing discussions via the History & Legacy of Sir John A. Macdonald Working Group, its role and involvement is as an active listener and participant. The working group – including both Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members, representing a diversity of perspectives – began meeting in February of 2021 to address issues specific to the history and legacy of Sir John A. Macdonald in Kingston and how it can be shared in relation to local landmarks managed by the City, as well as online.

As a member of the History & Legacy of Sir John A. Macdonald Working Group, the City says that it and its representatives will continue to receive and hear feedback and concerns from the group members and the Indigenous community. Any future recommendations will come as the result of input from the working group and the community.

The working group also supports the City’s efforts in taking meaningful steps to address issues of systemic racism and the negative impacts of colonial policies and practices in the histories that are shared about Kingston and the lands on which it is located.