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VICTORIA: Sir John A Came Down; Why Not the Beacon Hill Totem Too???

August 13th, 2018 · 18 Comments

If reconciliation is to work, it has to be a real TWO-WAY coming-to-grips with history … not just an orgy of hate against the white Europeans who founded this great nation and helped shape Canada into a country now the envy of so many in the world.

In Victoria, egged on by Mayor Lisa Helps (who famously took office in 2014 publicly declaring she would not swear allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen) , the spineless City Council voted to take down a statue of Sir John A Macdonald, arguably the most important founding father of Confederation.

Because a native leader asked them to do so.

This is just the latest in certainly what seems to be a national campaign by First Nations activists, backed by what I see as far left self-hating agitators, to literally TEAR DOWN wherever they can the personages and symbols of Canada’s EUROPEAN (white) past.

Earlier this year, Halifax regional council voted to remove the bronze monument commemorating Lieutenant General Edward Cornwallis, the military officer who founded Halifax in 1749.

“The decision comes after increasing controversy over Cornwallis’s so-called scalping proclamation that offered a cash bounty to anyone who killed a Mi’kmaw person,” reported the CBC.

Terrible .. yes!  By today’s standards. But remember, that was in the 1700s …  when the Mi’kmaw were warring against England …and Halifax.

“A wave of Mi’kmaq attacks began immediately afterwards. At Chignecto Bay, Mi’kmaq fighters attacked two British ships while two others were seized at Canso. At Halifax, Mi’kmaq attacks began on settlers and soldiers outside the fortified township, beginning with the first of several raids on the longhouse lumbering settlement at Dartmouth across the harbour. Five were killed in the initial attack and one escapee came to bring the news to Cornwallis,” explains the account in Wikipedia.

Where does it stop?  Remove …or burn …  the history books that praise the accomplishments of our European explorers, founders, leaders?

If we negate/tear down every accomplishment/symbol of Canadian history because native activists protest, what will be next?  Tearing down plaques/statues/street names our heroes from the First and Second World Wars because they bombed cities with civilians?  Or how they treated our Japanese citizens or turned away Jews fleeing Nazi persecution and death?

History allows us to look back, reflect and see where we could have done better. BUT we should/must not acknowledge ONLY the failings.

Let’s keep it real: it’s true the society and leaders of yesterday fell short by our standards today … not just in how they treated the Indians, but also the Chinese, the Jews, the Japanese, East Indians, Ukrainians, Italians, blacks, women, gays etc.

However, through it all they also accomplished the almost impossible, bringing together and laying the foundation for  a GREAT, DEMOCRATIC country … sea to sea … stretching 5,780 miles wide…or, as they say these days, 9,306 km.

And if our political leaders today are going to try to eradicate the symbols of  those accomplishments by Canada’s historical figures because of societal blemishes of their times … they should start looking at the TRUTH of native societies back through history as well.

Starting with the Totem Pole in Victoria’s Beacon Hill park.

“The park is notable for a few human-made features, as well. Most prominent is the world’s fourth-tallest totem pole, a 38.8-metre (127 ft) work carved by Kwakwaka’wakw craftsman Mungo Martin, and erected in 1956 and was when built, the world’s tallest,”  it says in Wikipedia.

The Kwakwaka’wakw!!!

Back in THEIR history, the encyclopedia says,  were indeed SLAVE holders  … a terrible thing to do by our standards TODAY … and remember, that’s the standard we are supposedly now applying to judge symbols relating to the past.

Is it really proper to keep a totem in any way honouring the Kwakwaka’wakw … a tribe with a history of Slavery???

If Sir John A came down …  shouldn’t also the Beacon Hill totem … following the logic of the modern day Indian activists, their far-left radical allies and our spineless politicians?

What we have now is a one-sided reconciliation farce: natives demand and left-wing politicians, who are afraid to stand up for TRUTH … bad and good …   instead give in and ERADICATE symbols of  our European-based history? But we say/do nothing to condemn/reject and dishonour the historic failings of  warring, murderous, slave-keeping native tribes/leaders or any other groups/societies with sordid records in their past, but who now proudly help make up Canada.

And it’s too bad we lack experienced or impertinent media reporters or their assignment editors informed or brave enough to ask politically incorrect … but worthy questions challenging the one-sidedness of “reconciliation” or the repudiation of only ONE side of our history.

The real solution should be to educate: leave the statues … but have signs beside each explaining the truth about the individual, contributions AND flaws, and the historical context of the times.

But if not … then our politicians must take a look as well at our natives’ historical record, in terms of cruelty and brutality … one band to another, one settlement to another, one people to another before honouring THEIR history/chiefs.

And what better place to start than the history of the peoples HONOURED by that totem in Victoria’s Beacon Hill park … and then, maybe even the “human rights” record of those tribes/bands whose totems are CELEBRATED in Stanley Park as well.

Harv Oberfeld

Tags: British Columbia · National

18 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Lynn G // Aug 13, 2018 at 8:55 am

    Well written Harvey. Victoria should be ashamed for lack of leadership and democracy.

    (Response: History and the people behind it are better explained than removed and hidden. h.o)

  • 2 Howard // Aug 13, 2018 at 10:31 am

    Are we on the way to anarchy? Seriously.

    What in the world possessed these civic politicians to do think they were empowered and mandated to do this?

    Lisa Helps even has the bald-faced gall to defend it by starchy proclaiming that it was a positive move because it opens up “conversations” on the topic in the aftermath.

    “Conversations”, as if public discourses and debates (even before taking action!) are somehow passé, and taking action BEFORE broad public consultation takes place is completely justified.

    It was breathtaking to also witness her amazement at her own ignorance re: Sir John A despite her massive intellect and academic credentials.

    Jesus wept.

    (Response: The trouble with the current “conversation” right across the country is it is only one way: native activists … with the help of self-hating far left urban agitators, anarchists and weak politicians are trying to “victimize” history … where only ONE side acted improperly and brutally by TODAY’s standards. The truth is BOTH sides … many Indian tribes and the Europeans … acted barbarically to their own and to each other three hundred years ago … so if that somehow still requires discussion today, let’s have it … regarding BOTH sides …but don’t denigrate just the European-backgrounded leaders and builders who were brave enough and worked harder than any politicians I know today to form Canada into a single united country from the Atlantic to the Pacific … and the Arctic Circle as well. h.o.)

  • 3 Thresher // Aug 13, 2018 at 11:31 am

    Well done Harvey. You’ve articulated the problem with trying to retcon history based on today’s standards.

    I would hazard to guess that nearly every single European with a hand in creating Canada held beliefs that we would find repugnant today. BUT, what is reprehensible today was “fact” back then.

    We have to be able to look at our past and accept what was condoned 200 years ago is no longer acceptable, but it was then. This comes down to education.

    (Response: At some point, our politicians are going to realize that it is better to concentrate on the future and making things better than caving in to activists and agitators who want a ONE-SIDED rewrite of our history and ONE-SIDED condemnation of past historical figures. h.o)

  • 4 rainclouds // Aug 13, 2018 at 12:06 pm

    Well put and historically accurate. The book “White slaves of the Nootka” certainly pays testament to your comments above.

    Regarding Halifax, yes the Indigenous residents certainly did kill many settlers.Cornwallis imposed the “scalp tax” after yet another raid and mass murder on the settlers.

    It is instructive that the loudest aggreived person in the tiny band of professional malcontents assembled in Halifax to ensure the blame game went to defcon 10 was a First Nations woman from BC……

    The silent majority seeths when fed this progressive, simple minded, devoid of facts, claptrap from people who otherwise would be completely ignored as raving lunatics.

    Were residential schools a pox on humanity? hard to say but certainly some were. Probably some weren’t.
    How long does society at large
    take the blame for past decisions we had no part in.
    When does the aboriginal community accept some responsibility for their current situation?

    There are many successful bands who are self reliant and others who are not.
    There are many Chiefs and band administrators getting wealthy while their members live in 3rd world conditions.Others care about the welfare of their people.

    When honest debate is absent we are left with the squeaky wheel syndrome and no one wins.Spineless, politicians only make it worse.

    (Response: That’s the problem: too many people “seethe” at the one-sided guilt trip of our politicians, but say/do nothing. And then there’s the weak-kneed media ..incapable of or afraid to ask tough questions about the one-sidedness of the supposed “dialogue”. But the worst are the spineless far left politicians who are either deliberately ignoring or ignorant of the true historical context when much of the NOW outrageous actions of our founding leaders took place. I’m not saying ignore historical failings…point them out on a plaque or educational signboard but don’t ignore their accomplishments and tremendous contributions to our country, just because Indian militants and their self-hating leftie urban allies demand we condemn and wipe out any recognition of our historical heroes. h.o.)

  • 5 Eldon // Aug 13, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    I shared this on my FB page. It got zero comments. It seems everyone is terrified to tackle this discussion.

    (Response: Give it time. Glad you did your posting. And you are right… too many of our “leaders” have either bought into this one-sided hate game …or are too afraid to speak up for what they know to be the truth. h.o)

  • 6 Gene The Bean // Aug 13, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    HaHa – When I read about this I immediately thought this would be a good Keeping It Real topic … and here you are.

    Big mistake. Victoria’s mayor and council should be voted out for this nonsense. No one wants their elected officials to be spending time on these non-issues. Complete waste of time and resources. This is a real life example of both the peter principle and how much even a little power corrupts people. Municipal government needs to be working on things like the homeless situation, local services, orderly and environmentally responsible development and fixing potholes. Not playing (insert your religious deity here) and trying to re-write or “fix” history.

    I am a history buff – I am hardly an expert on anything but I know enough to say if we were to rally against all the real or perceived “wrongs” of the past we would be living in a totally sterilized environment with NO historical references at all.

    We are only about 500 years past the time when almost all cultures on this planet gleefully and joyously committed atrocities that would sicken us today.

    Using this as an example – all of us, the entire population of the planet, could be held in contempt for what our direct ancestors did, or maybe didn’t do. It is nonsensical to try and ‘adjust’ or ‘change the perceptions’ of history. It is what it is.

    I also think the removal of historical confederate monuments in the southern states of Trumpistan is a mistake. Yes, many of them were purposefully erected to glorify racism and white supremacy but they shouldn’t be shelved. They should be removed from their places of prominence and placed in a more educational setting. Many of them are used as gathering places for the current crop of racist right wing haters and that needs to be addressed as well.

    Removal of this statue is just the same as Herr Harper trying to muzzle scientists from publishing factual scientific data. You can try and change the narrative if you don’t like it but the voters have the final say. Just ask Harper….

    (Response: I don’t think very many of our millennials or even Generation Xers have any clue how far we have come in a VERY short time in terms of human rights and civility in Canada. It’s really not that long ago … that Japanese CANADIANS had their property stolen from them and they were forced to go live in camps; that women or ethnics could hold any senior cabinet posts, that non-WASPS could live in some neighbourhoods, that gay bars/baths were raided and any “found-ins” had their pictures and names in the next days’ newspapers, and that Chinese were humiliated and forced to pay head taxes. AWFUL! But through it all, those backward leaders OF THAT TIME managed to do a LOT of good to settle a nation with thriving cities and towns and industries, establish a Confederation, build a nation and a democratic system of government that eventually brought us to our advanced state of tolerance and understanding and progress today. We must NOT deny those heroes their due … just because minority activists demand it… and our weak politicians are far too willing to cave in. h.o.)

  • 7 Barry // Aug 13, 2018 at 10:33 pm

    I’m divided on this. On the one hand I do see how the natives would dislike someone who they see as a major player in the destruction of their culture.

    On the other, as an amateur historian, I find the white washing of history unsettling.

    I can’t help but wonder if there is room for a compromise here: Keep the statue, but have some sort of signage to acknowledge John A wasn’t a saint?

    When extreme positions rule, very few people are satisfied and only creates dissension. I think we are seeing signs of that in this debate.

    (Response: Nothing wrong with disliking, criticizing or even condemning historical figures or even society in general for failings. But the Japanese who were treated abysmally during World War II and were apologized to later NEVER demanded we take down statues or rename buildings/streets named for Mackenzie King; neither did the Jews …who were turned away by the thousands to die in Nazi camps because King and his Immigration minister were extreme anti-Semites; nor have the Chinese, who Canada treated terribly and forced to pay a special crippling head tax just to come here. Canadians are capable of discussing and addressing and even noting historic failures … without erasing symbols of the many accomplishments these leaders … from many generations ago … also achieved to help build our great country. h.o.)

  • 8 Diverdarren // Aug 14, 2018 at 2:47 am

    Harvey, your commentary is spot on this issue. This has more to do with placating activists than actually addressing problems.

    The truth is that our society has made reconciliation. Once equality based on race was enshrined in law reconciliation was made. The only role of government is to create laws that respect Natural Law. Anything beyond writing law is governmental over reach into the liberties of the people. It’s not governments place to tell us what to believe, or what the acceptable “true” historical narrative will be.

    Every society is in a state of change. Some faster than others and some are in regression. Canada today has equality, justice, freedoms. There’s opportunity for all, if anyone wants to grab for it. Unfortunately, there are some that fail, and blame society past and present for their failure. This of course is a failing of oneself. Society past didn’t cause ones failure, and society present has all the tools for anyone to succeed.

    In only a couple of hundred years a society has been built that has opportunity for all. Built by white Western Europeans with a capacity to change, to be better than it was. Yes, it started with inequalities, but judge it today as it is today.

    There will probably be a time in the not too distant future where the way we treat and eat the animals, will to future minds look barbaric. Our practices today will look to them as barbaric as how we look at our past.

    Are we an evil society today?
    If we’re not a evil society today, then is it proper for our future society to deem us evil based on values that don’t even exist yet?

    (Response: Society evolves ..and one of the easiest ways to see that is to look back at old radio/tv shows to see what was acceptable and what was prohibited just 20 or 30 years ago. Amazing! And in view of the rapid progress we’ve made, seems a bit ludicrous to go back 100 or 200 years and judge society and the leaders nationwide then by the mores and laws we accept today. No more than we should judge Indian bands and tribes and chiefs now by their bloody actions and massacres nationwide 200 hundred years ago either. Note them, condemn their actions if you want …but don’t erase their roles or successes on behalf of their societies … and most of all. don’t just judge OME SIDE ‘s actions alone. h.o.)

  • 9 e. a. f. // Aug 14, 2018 at 7:01 pm

    Certainly there are very few or none, who didn’t committ terrible acts in the name of whatever, back in the day. We only need look at history in any European nation as they moved forward. In England young children were executed for things such as stealing bread…….we all get the drift we all pretty much come from societies which were less than sterling in their treatment of others.

    I think the problem here is that the mistakes, nastiness of the past, Sir John A, and residential schools lived on into modern times. So I disagree with comparing slave owing First Nations’ to Sir John A.

    Slave owning by First Nations ceased a long time ago. The residential schools not so much. They were still going on in the 1970s and the last one in Port Alberni didn’t close until I believe the 70s or 80s. There are people who suffered and are still alive today. The other wrong doings by many countries and societies were over and done with a long time ago.

    We have seen the racism and discriminaton aimed at First Nations. We only have to look at the Harper years when it was the policy of Harper to spend less on children’s health and education if they lived on reservations than in the rest of Canada.

    When you have that kind of history its kind of hard to let go. Its like some Europeans still hated Germany until the day they died. Letting go of the past has a lot to do with what is happening today. s

    Symbols are targetted because sometimes that is all there is to target but even when they are done away with, such as Sir John A. people still don’t feel better and they never will.

    As I write this I am watching the news and the reports of 300 Catholic priests who raped, assaulted, etc. 1,000 children in Pennsylvania. Do we tear down the churches? Some may argue yes. Those would be the victims and their families for sure. Those not involved might have other opinions.

    So when we look at those who want statues removed, do we see the victims of government actions or do we see people making political hay.

    Now the current statue of Sir John A. outside of City Hall, it was installed in 1982. Some one ought have known better I’m o.k. with moving it away from the front of City Hall. For those who were in residential schools its is a constant reminder of what they suffered. A statue of the first mayor of Victoria might have been better.

    We will never come to an agreement on this topic and a lot of it has to do with what your family history is and what is happening to them today. There are also whose who will make political hay and advance their political careers. As to Lisa Helps, it is my opinion, she may actually be doing what she believes is the right thing. She has been clear where she stands on any number of things and she is simply the person she is and I like her for it.

    Our statue debate is about the people who created our country and all of them come with baggage. That baggage has also managed to offend many. so put the statue somewhere else, not in front of City Hall. I’m good if it is put somewhere else where there is a plaque which acknowledges his contribution to Canada with an acknoldgement of his involvement in the beginning of residential schools and its continuation into modern times by the voters of this country along with the leaders. It isn’t just Sir John A who is guilty. We all are/were, if you’re old enough.

    (Response: Readers of this blog will know I have no problem discussing, debating, condemning the failings of our society …and others elsewhere too… in the hope of addressing the issues they present. But let’s keep it real: Macdonald was not only among the lead founders of Canada as a nation, he was also our first Prime Minister and was also a Victoria MP. That’s WHY the statue was placed in front of Victoria City Hall in the first place: it deserved to be there, in recognition of his very, very significant accomplishments and contributions to our nation. A sign explaining/addressing the historical context from a modern point of view could have explained and educated for generations … without a weak city council denying the truth of his overall service to Canada, running scared and caving in to militant activists. h.o.)

  • 10 G. Barry Stewart // Aug 14, 2018 at 9:33 pm

    A well-written, passionate piece, Harvey!

    I wondered about what angle you were going to come from, on the totem pole — but you got there with an excellent point.

    E.A.F. says First Nations slave owning ended a long time ago. True — but why and when?

    I went on a bus tour this year with Sto:lo historian, Sonny McHalsie,and he showed us at Lady Franklin Rock, upstream of Yale, where the Yale natives had built up rock and log palisades to protect themselves from coastal raiders.

    That was one heck of a paddle, to get from the coast to Yale — but it was a common practice and not one the Yale natives looked forward to.

    Meanwhile, at Fort Langley, Hudson Bay Co. staff would use their canons to ‘encourage’ coastal raiders to turn back, leaving the locals natives in peace so they could get on with trading at the fort.

    European contact had many bad outcomes for First Nations in B.C. — but stopping the coastal raiders was on the good side of the ledger.

    (Response: I hope no one gets me wrong: I believe we should celebrate our First Nations culture and address any wrongs; BUT those of us of a European background don’t have to destroy the symbols and leaders of OUR culture to do that. Better to look ahead TOGETHER not back, just because native militant activists and far-left agitators try to rub our noses in past failings …unless they’re willing to apologize for their ancestors’ cruelty and failings as well. h.o.)

  • 11 13 // Aug 14, 2018 at 9:43 pm

    Harvey, you deserve an attaboy for telling it like it is. You actually placed blame upon the Indians and dared to ask them to do some of their own reconciliation.
    Move the statue? I wonder how much of our tax dollars will be wasted on moving statues,storing statues, replacing statues, renaming parks, oceans, islands, streets etc.
    Bean I find myself in the rare position of agreeing with you (except for the Harper insults)
    eaf as usual you have enough guilt for both of us. Thanks. And yes Im sure that you would happily pay more taxes to alleviate more guilt.

    (Response: I called the blog Keeping it Real for a reason: certainly challenges the far-to-easy one-sidedness of militant activists, anarchistic agitators, self-hating citizens, weak politicians and petrified or simply ignorant media. h.o.)

  • 12 e.a.f. // Aug 15, 2018 at 4:08 pm

    Now 13, I don’t do guilt or feel guilty about much in my life. Certainly don’t feel guilty about things others have done and don’t suffer from “white guilt”.

    I wouldn’t pay more taxes to “alleviate more guilt”. What I’d pay more taxes for is to “alleviate” poverty and some of the things which go along with it. Most things in this country which go sideways can usually be traced back to poverty. In my opinion, when people lash out at objects such as Sir John A’s statue, its because not much has changed for them. If they had they might not be so focused on the injustices of yesterday. They might remember them and observe days of rememberance, but when you continue to live in the conditions that started because of Sir John A.’s actions, well you get to where you are today.

    If you had been in residential school in the 1950s/60s I wonder where your head would be at today. If you ever get curious, I’m sure there is enough material to get you informed about what went on in residential schools just here in B.C.
    When people suggest, First Nations get “over it”, I wonder why they don’t say that about th thousands upon thousands of sexual abuse victims of priests in the catholic church? A lot of them didn’t turn out so well and their lives also have been disasters.

    About 20 years ago a study done on street kids in Vancouver came to the conclusion most, at that time had been victims of sexual abuse at home. Its the trama children never get over. IF you look at people in highly dangerous occupations, like First Responders and military people, they get PTSD and I have found society to be much more understanding of them then they have been of children who wound up with PTSD because of the residential schools

  • 13 Gene The Bean // Aug 15, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    13 @ 11

    Facts are not insults.

    If you are offended and against the removal of the statue (for all the reasons stated), you should be equally offended at Harper muzzling science to promote a narrow not-fact based agenda. There is absolutely no difference here. I hope you can see that.

    The argument that “ya, he is an idiot, but he is my teams idiot” will go down in history as the lamest ever.

  • 14 D. M. Johnston // Aug 15, 2018 at 10:27 pm

    Those who wish to remove statues to promote their version of history are a very dangerous breed indeed.

    As George Orwell observed in his prophetic 1984; “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

    And here it is simply put, the higher purpose persons, want their narrative to gain superiority over the established facts.

    Only cowards libel dead people, because they cannot defend themselves.

    Victoria’s Mayor is just such a coward.

    (Response: Of course, the capitulation of the weak Victoria city council will only encourage other activists … egged on by the “well organized anarchists” … who enjoy agitating and/or trying to disrupt society or negate any signs or tributes to historical achievers and their accomplishments in our history. Watch for more of them to initiate actions across the country. h.o.)

  • 15 13 // Aug 16, 2018 at 4:27 pm

    GTB. When you reference my teams idiot you must be talking Justin. He is not on team 13

  • 16 Harry lawson // Aug 17, 2018 at 5:50 am

    Harvey.

    History must be taught in the context of the time. To do otherwise is a disservice to all. I wonder what future generations will say about this revisionist movement?

    (Response: Exactly. It’s very easy to tear down historical figures when viewed from the perspective of today. Who’s next? Churchill? Queen Victoria? Jacques Cartier? Some of the Saints? …and don’t even get started on the Popes!! With the example set by spineless politicians like they have on Victoria council, taking down and recycling statues could become a new world-wide industry. h.o)

  • 17 Gene The Bean // Aug 17, 2018 at 8:16 am

    13 – I have criticized Trudeau many, many times when it is appropriate to do so. That is what normal people do.

    Morally bankrupt people never criticize their “team” …. get it now?

  • 18 Jay Jones // Aug 18, 2018 at 10:45 pm

    Wholly yawnsville. Like kids running a school.

    Remove that picture! That teacher gave my great great great-grandfather a detention!