Parks Canada to host ‘racism and sexism’ tours from Sir John A. Macdonald’s historic home

‘Every person coming for a visit … perceives Canada and its origins … [as] a land … of pain representing oppression, inequality and intergenerational trauma,’ said the 2023 Management Plan.

Parks Canada to host ‘racism and sexism’ tours from Sir John A. Macdonald’s historic home
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Parks Canada is set to reopen the historic home of Canada’s first prime minister with honorary  “racism and sexism” tours.

The Kingston, Ontario dominion of Sir John A. Macdonald will relaunch Saturday for $9 admission. “Bring an open mind and open heart,” the agency said.

Parks Canada said its Unpacking Macdonald tour will examine “social class structures, racism and sexism in Victorian Canada while looking closer at some of Macdonald’s political decisions.” It did not elaborate.

“Join the discussion in this safe space,” reads an agency statement. 

The Bellevue House National Historic Site has been closed for years following extensive renovations totalling $2.1 million and pandemic restrictions.

According to a 2023 Management Plan, Bellevue House seeks to unpack “some of the more complex and unrepresented facets of Sir John A. Macdonald,” reported Blacklock’s Reporter. Unrepresented facets include a land recognition, given the residence is on the “traditional territory of the Anishinaabe.”

“Visitors can learn about and contend with Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister, and reflects on Canadian history,” said the Management Plan. It refers to Bellevue House as “a place of contemplation on Canada’s colonial beginnings.”

Parks Canada paid $30,688 to Inclusive Voices Inc., an Indigenous contractor, to “assist with management planning consultations and engagement by reaching out to Indigenous communities.”

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 web pages 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 told reporters he could “understand the impatience of people who want change” in revising Canada’s history.

“Every person coming for a visit … perceives Canada and its origins … [as] a land … of pain representing oppression, inequality and intergenerational trauma,” said the Management Plan.

Though Prime Minister Trudeau recognized Macdonald did “some very positive things in creating today’s Canada,” he notes that parts of that history need to be viewed more critically.

However, Trudeau drew the line at vandalism. His remarks followed the destruction of a Montréal statute honouring Macdonald.

“It’s not up to a small group to decide unilaterally we cannot recognize or celebrate one person or another,” said Trudeau. “We need informed debate.”

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

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