If you drive down Victoria’s Pandora Avenue this what you will see:
You might think that this image of a couple of the literally hundreds of homeless people would drive Victoria City Council to action. (And it has to some degree – a few years ago City Council was looking at banning boulevard camping.)
However, faced with an intractable problem which is only growing worse, City Council decided to clean up another blight on Pandora, this:
It appears that the statue of Sir John A. MacDonald is offensive to First Nations and that Victoria’s “City Family” (not a task force you understand) want it removed in the interests of “reconciliation”. Sir John’s great sin was a belief that the assimilation of Canada’s First Nations was the appropriate goal for government policy. This goal has now been recast as “cultural genocide” and who would want a statue of a genocidaire near a public building? The Times Colonist has a surprisingly well balanced story on the question.
I have no great fondness for Sir John and it is not a statue of striking artistic merit but I wonder if removing statues of historical figures for contemporary political reasons isn’t simply an empty gesture in the face of an inability to actually face real issues.
The mighty City Council of Victoria may think it can atone for the sins, real and imagined, of the Victorians’ belief in assimilation by consigning Sir John’s statue to a sub-basement. But that does less than nothing for the many First Nation’s people who are up the street “boulevard camping”.
There is hard work to be done on First Nations’ issues. Removing statues and renaming schools and bridges is not that work. Walking three blocks up Pandora and thinking very hard about the issues which send hundreds of people, including First Nations people, “boulevard camping” is the beginning of that work.