The National Capital Commission (NCC) took down a portrait of Lord Durham in a recent display celebrating Ottawa as Canada’s Capital because of some historic information about his views on the French. Durham advocated for the French to assimilate into English Canada as a way of succeeding. Yes, a fairly unenlightened view during those times and to many offensive, however a part of our history. Why whitewash it?
If you want to start whitewashing, let’s cast our eyes at MontrÃ©al to Lionel Groulx. For all of his good works in MontrÃ©al as a priest and historian, he was a right-wing extremest who admired Salazar and Mussolini, was an anti-semite and one could argue was one of the first Quebec Separatists. Yet his name is featured prominately in MontrÃ©al.
Instead of whitewashing history,Â let’s celebrate that these people contributed to our history and that they were not perfect. No one in history is perfect. To take down parts of our historical identity because it might offend someone instead of understanding and learning from it does nothing but reduce our history to an episode of the Brady Bunch, all touchy-feely with no substance. Our history is too rich and diverse for that!