Charity censors ‘Heritage Minute’ on Sir John A. Macdonald

A ‘Heritage Minute’ of former Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald was intentionally taken down by unspecified ‘educators’ under the guise of promoting reconciliation.

Charity censors ‘Heritage Minute’ on Sir John A. Macdonald
The Canadian Press / Carlos Osorio
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A Heritage Minute featuring former prime minister Sir John A. Macdonald was intentionally taken down over his “controversial” legacy, according to media reports.

Issues of contention included his detention of Indigenous peoples on reserves and his role in creating the residential school system. 

Historica Canada, an organization known for 60-second videos of key figures and moments in Canadian history, deleted a sympathetic portrayal of Macdonald on its YouTube channel, though it remains available on Facebook.

The Heritage Minute highlighted Macdonald's dream for Confederation as Canada's first prime minister. He envisioned a nation stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans that would be actualized by building the Canadian Pacific Railway.

“To the east,” said the Macdonald impersonator, “the Atlantic provinces, then Upper and Lower Canada, across the Prairies, to the Rockies and beyond, a new country made one by a railway from sea to sea.”

A spokesperson for Historical Canada claimed the 2015 production preceded “subsequent controversies” concerning reconciliation.

“The more intense discussions and subsequent controversies regarding Macdonald’s treatment of Indigenous peoples had not yet taken place,” said Chantal Gagnon, the organization’s director of branding and digital media. 

She said “educators” censored the Heritage Minute but did not reveal specifics.

“Historica Canada’s goal is to educate Canadians on the history of this country, including both its achievements and failings.”

Parks Canada reopened Macdonald’s historic home on May 18 with honourary “racism and sexism” tours to reflect the country’s “colonial beginnings.”

The Bellevue House National Historic Site wants to unpack “some of the more complex and unrepresented facets of Sir John A. Macdonald,” according to a 2023 Management Plan.

Unrepresented facets include a land recognition, given the residence is on the “traditional territory of the Anishinaabe,” reported Blacklock’s Reporter

Federal revision of tour content follows the 2021 removal of a Library and Archives Canada web feature First Among Equals that honoured Macdonald and his successors in a “celebration of Canada’s prime ministers.” 

Deletion of the webpages reflected a 2019 cabinet paper Framework For History And Commemoration that said official histories must address “colonialism, patriarchy and racism.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier recognized Macdonald did “some very positive things in creating today’s Canada.”

He also said other parts of that history need to be viewed more critically but drew the line at vandalism, follwing the destruction of a Montréal statute honouring Macdonald.

“I don’t think divisive debate or acts of vandalism like destroying a statue are going to move us ahead as a society. We’re seeing people trying to trigger culture wars and divide Canadians on these issues,” Trudeau stated.

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