I had hoped that all this Woke Society/Cancel Culture, delusional fad-du-jour would remain in the Excited States. Alas, t’was not to be. This is the Information Age, which means that it’s on the internet, and spreading faster than COVID. It has wafted North across the border, and settled on Canada like wildfire smoke, including in my usually staid, sane-thinking Kitchener.
The first symptom developed a couple of years ago, when a local artist donated a bronze statue of Sir John A. MacDonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister and the one in charge of the beginning of Indian residential schools, where thousands of unmarked graves are only now being found.
A huge fuss was raised to prevent the statue from being put in the big, down-town park. It eventually was shipped to a small town, ten miles west, where there is an historic mini-mansion. It was doused with red paint twice, and finally knocked off its pedestal.
More recently, the statue of Queen Victoria in her namesake park has been painted red twice. While she was mostly a figurehead monarch, apparently she’s being blamed for British colonialism. A brown-skinned immigrant from India has started a petition to rename the city. Beginning as ‘Sand Hills,’ it became ‘Ebytown,’ and then Berlin, Ontario.
105 years ago, the woke generation of English-speakers demanded that the town change its name, to show loyalty to Britain during WW I. The local German burghers didn’t really care. Victoria, the ‘English’ queen, was actually German nobility, from the House of Saxe-Coburg-Anhalt.
British Lord Kitchener’s name was a last-minute addition to a referendum with six names. The outstanding feature of the plebiscite was the absolute indifference displayed by the ratepayers. With about 10,000 voters, (All of them men 😯 ) only 892 bothered to cast a ballot, and the name Kitchener got a plurality of 346.
Kitchener (the man) was not excessively colonialist, or racist. He was just steeped in the unthinking beliefs of the time and place. White, British males held a Manifest Destiny to own and control the world. It is a huge mistake to try to retroactively apply 21st Century morals.
In 1973, Waterloo Lutheran University went public, and adopted the name Wilfrid Laurier University, partly to honor the subject of my Where’s Willy post, and partly so that they could retain the same initials – WLU.
Now there is another petition being circulated to have that name also changed. True, Willy helped administrate the residential Indian school system which damaged so many Indigenous, but, like Lord Kitchener, he did what he did out of an honest belief that it was in their best interests.
I think that we are taking this name change of streets, cities, schools, etc. way too far. The past is the past, which we cannot, nor ever will be able to, change. Really people, this needs to stop. Move on. We need to learn from it, not bury it.
I ask the woke folk to take a good look in the mirror, and ask themselves two questions. “Looking back at your very short existence and past behaviors, is there anything that you now regret doing and would do differently if you had the chance?” Judge not, lest ye be judged. Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone. “Second, how did Canada become one of the best counties in the world in which to live? Could it be because of the leaders of the past – the ones whose contributions and reputations you so eagerly want to tarnish?”
Name changes are not only inconvenient, but are also very costly. Anything that’s associated with a data-base which contains addresses will be affected. Passports, drivers’ licences, health cards, property and automobile ownerships, Federal, Provincial and municipal taxes, utilities accounts, postal services, road signs, mapping, GPS – the list goes on and on.
Come on, Snowflakes! Nowhere in the American or Canadian Constitution are you guaranteed the right not to be offended. 😳