Commemorating John A. Macdonald: Collective Remembering and the Structure of Settler Colonialism in British Columbia


  • Timothy J Stanley U Ottawa



            The 2018 controversy surrounding the decision of the mayor and council of the City of Victoria, BC, to remove a statue of John A. Macdonald from the entrance to city hall raises questions about how lived histories of colonialism and racisms are marked in landscape of collective remembering within the city and more broadly within Canada. Building of the work of James Wertsch on collective remembering, Eileen Moreton Robinson on private property and Patrick Wolfe on settler colonialism, this paper explores how the cultural markings of the City of Victoria have been produced by processes of colonization and racist exclusion. In particular, it discusses how such things as the dominance of English, the nature of place names, the marginalization Indigenous and Chinese people within the territory have come to be and how this making is erased from technologies of remembering. The paper contrasts the historical John A. Macdonald and his colonizing and racist practices his celebration by nationalists today. In so doing it show how the positions of the Macdonald apologists enact the same exclusions as those of the colonizing landscape.  It conclude sby considering the implications of this structure of colonized remembering for transformative projects of decolonization and antiracism.