April 16th 2018
Humanities 10 TALONS
The first prime minister of Canada, Sir John A. Macdonald, was responsible for building the Canadian Pacific Railroad, forming parliament and separating the country from Britain, but the people he used to get there were unacknowledged, excluded, and treated like a “separate species” (Stanley). When he first came to office in 1867, he wanted to connect the young nation with a railroad, but quickly got into disputes, disagreements and harsh encounters with those who were not “Aryan” enough (Dennie). He used this idea and the people around him to complete his dream, immortalizing him in the public sphere with schools and statues made in his honour. Most people at the time, as well as some today, believe that his actions are more than justified and that he should be held up high for his accomplishments, while others disagree, and would rather see the statues taken down to symbolize our new values. Regardless of his accomplishments while in power, the exclusion of the chinese workers and the ignorance towards the indigenous peoples shows that he only cared for those of his race, making him a figure that should not be monumentalized.
While Canada began to stretch their railroad across the newly purchased and aligned land, and influx of chinese immigrants began to arrive with hopes of providing for their families, only to be met with inflated immigration prices, low wages, and little to no credit for the work they did on the Canadian Pacific Railroad. John A. Macdonald stated that the chinese “were separate species” who would breed “mongrel” people that would make his “Aryan” nation impure. Although this may have been common at their day and age, our Country’s current idea of inclusion and multiculturalism are skewed with the praise towards somebody who went out of their way to do the exact opposite.
On the other hand, some people believe that his actions were justified as building a nation requires sacrifices, including the immigrant workers, but his exclusion and mistreatment of others is also inside the country. When Canada purchased Rupert’s Land, they did not talk to the native Metis peoples, which led to the red river rebellion. When Macdonald realized that Louis Riel would not simply give up until his voice was heard, he attempted to bribe him to immigrate to the USA and never come back. This was successful for a small period of time, but Louis returned soon which led to the “hanging of Louis Riel” (Oliver). His sudden and irrational action to hagn the rebel and voice of the people proved that he cared little for those who were here before him. A leader of a new country who cannot accept or value the people he seeks to lead should not be up held in schools where the descendants of those discriminated against are taught an entire;y different story of John, and forced to look upon him as a Canadian hero.
John A. Macdonald’s fear and ignorance of those who would have joined him have left cultural barriers and misinterpretations of how people were treated and should be treated today. By removing the Chinese immigrants and ostracizing the natives, Sir John A. Macdonald has done more harm than good. When a leader, even more so for the first one, shows that it is acceptable to mistreat others, including the young people who are influenced by the names of their schools. A country with our values today do not seem to line up with the way that Sir John A. Macdonald saw this country to be. So would you rather leave statues of a discriminatory racist up, or move them to a museum so we can learn from our mistakes.