Newspaper article The Canadian Press

A Look at Prominent Canadian Figures Who've Recently Sparked Controversy

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

A Look at Prominent Canadian Figures Who've Recently Sparked Controversy

Article excerpt

Five Canadian historical figures under scrutiny


An elementary teachers' union in Ontario has issued a call to remove the name of Canada's first prime minister from schools in the province. The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario said it wants Sir John A. MacDonald's name pulled because of what it calls his role as the "architect of genocide against Indigenous Peoples." Macdonald was prime minister during the time the federal government approved the first residential schools in the country.

The call comes as a number of other figures from Canadian history have recently been scrutinized. Here are five such cases:

Hector-Louis Langevin

Until recently, the Prime Minister's offices were housed in a building known as the Langevin Block, named after Hector-Louis Langevin, a father of Confederation and an architect of the residential school system. The name of the building was changed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in light of Langevin's legacy: as minister of public works, Langevin argued that a separate school system for Indigenous youth was needed to assimilate them into Canadian culture. Several Indigenous MPs had asked for the name of the building to be changed last February and, in June, their request was granted. The building is now called the Office of the Prime Minister and the Privy Council.

Egerton Ryerson

Ontario's public education system owes its beginnings to Egerton Ryerson but he is also believed to have helped shape residential school policy through his ideas on education for Indigenous children. An Indigenous students' group and the Ryerson Students Union have called for Toronto's Ryerson University to change its name out of respect for residential school survivors. The groups have also called for the removal of a statue of Ryerson that currently stands on campus. The university has acknowledged that Ryerson's ideas contributed to the residential school system, but it hasn't changed its name or removed the statue. …

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