CALGARY – Premier Jason Kenney believes it’s a slippery slope to remove the names of historical Canadians who orchestrated racist policies in the country, including establishing residential schools.
Tuesday, the Calgary Board of Education announced it would be removing the name of a prominent contributor to residential schools — Sir Hector-Louis Langevin — from one of its schools and reverting it back to its former name of Riverside School.
The Catholic school board said it would be consulting with stakeholders to decide if the name of Bishop Grandin High School would also be changed. Vital-Justin Grandin was a prominent figure in the creation of residential schools.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi had called on the school boards to change the names of schools that were named after people connected to residential schools.
While Kenney says he wasn’t aware of the change regarding CBE’s Langevin school, he added that Canada is an imperfect but still a great country.
“If we want to get into cancelling every figure in our history who took positions on issues at the time that we now judge harshly and rightly in historical retrospective — but if that’s the standard — then I think our entire founding leadership of our country gets cancelled,” he said.
Kenney says we should learn from history rather than rushing to remove names or statues, and that it is a complex issue.
He also says some accomplishments of people, like Sir John A. Macdonald, need to be celebrated as well.
Some people across the country have been calling for statues of controversial leaders, like Macdonald, to be removed and for names of schools and other venues to be changed.
They say it is important not to glorify people who were connected to what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission ruled was a cultural genocide of Indigenous people.
It comes days after the bodies of 215 kids were found in a mass unmarked grave at the site of a former Kamloops, B.C., residential school.
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