June 13th, 2024

People who fell victim to inhumanity often forgotten

By Letter to the Editor on July 21, 2021.

Statues of dead white people are falling down and some people say “You can not cancel history.” I agree. History must not be forgotten. Every historical figure should be remembered. But the question is who should be honoured. Some must not be forgotten but without honour. Hitler must never be forgotten but never honoured.
The problem is those guilty are remembered because they were white Europeans. The people who fell victims of inhuman acts were often forgotten because they were from other racial groups.
John Newton was a slave ship captain for almost his entire life but he is remembered lovingly just because of the hymn he wrote, “Amazing Grace.” He wrote it later in his life after he became an abolitionist. However, does anyone remember his victims and record the names of those who were kidnapped and separated from family, chained and traded like animals, and during the storm thrown into the ocean as cargo in order to save the ship?
Rendered nameless is the same as murdered but worse because they are not remembered.
I was once gullible enough to send more than $200 and spit as a DNA sample asking for information about my origin. After a month the result came back.
I found that I was an East Asian and my ancestry came from somewhere north of Malay to the northern Hokkaido island; west of Mongolia to the eastern edge of Honshu Island of Japan, the area bigger than North America. Of course I knew that without paying 200 bucks. I guess they did not have data for a person who looked like me. Isn’t this called systemic racism?
We need a new system where every human is remembered by name. However, we have a problem. We don’t have a record. The system had not thought to count everybody worth remembering, like thousands of children buried unmarked under the ground of former residential schools. They were priceless beloved children of parents and community. They all had names. I can not imagine the sleepless nights of agony waiting for them to come home, who never did.
Tadashi (Tad) Mitsui

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surely there is grace in turning around one’s actions for the better? slavery was an accepted practice for a very long time, well ahead of mass african transport overseas. sick as it was, even africans took part in the capture and sale of other africans. once again, we are looking back from a more enlightened time. for his day, the turnabout from slave ship captain to abolitionist is remarkable. despite some enlightenment on slavery, humans remain a glut of ignorance and sickness: with regard to the planet and to each other. all of hallmarks of success remain selfish and feats of self service. ego is king. there is no undoing the wickedness once done, but we surely must honour growth. if newton’s support of abolition was indeed pure, then that change of heart must be celebrated. if we do otherwise, then we are each condemned to forever be our worst; and so, too, humanity.

Dennis Bremner

Ones hero’s do not have to be long dead ones. As society progresses, society changes (for better or worse) the change generates progressives within society. Those progressives can be seen as “those who got us here”. Statues etc are a reminder of those people that contributed to a “good” society the most, so I see no reason why a statue of a Long Dead, who was honored during his or her time, cannot be replaced by more recent celebrated person as a person of OUR time. The history of evolution and modernization should be fluid and ever changing.
Walking by a statue of McDonald or Laurier reminds me of nothing. Walking past a statue of Terry Fox does.
How “fluid” should our monuments and statues be? I would be game for 3D projections/Holograms in every park with motion activated video of that persons contribution so that walking by a statue or landmark becomes interactive and actually Means Something to the person walking by!
When it is decided by society that the present Hologram has now been superseded by a new Hero, then throw the switch!

My bet is that would spur young people to visit sites of significance because an interactive Hologram (Google assistant hidden) would make learning far more complete and the significance far more lasting. This would occur in Parks as well. Walk up to a significant site like Grey Owls Cabin and there would be Grey Owl in Hologram form telling you how he managed to defraud so many people into believing he was Indigenous đŸ™‚

Last edited 2 years ago by Dennis Bremner
This Red Neck Has No Neck

You write: “Walking by a statue of McDonald (sic) or Laurier reminds me of nothing. Walking past a statue of Terry Fox does”. Really, nothing with respect to Macdonald (the correct spelling) or Laurier?
Surely you know that Macdonald was Canada’s first PM? Along with George-Étienne Cartier he also hijacked the Charlottetown Conference in 1864, a meeting that was originally set to discuss the confederation of NB, NS and PEI, and is typically ranked in second or third place among Canadian prime ministers. But he was also a scoundrel and bribe taker (homework assignment: read up on the Pacific Scandal), a racist and a bigot (as were most Canadians at the time), and an architect of Canada’s Residential School Policy, the consequences of which continue to reverberate through Canada’s social and economic fabric today (homework assignment: read up on Intergenerational Transmission of Trauma, a phenomenon first identified in 1966 amongst the children of Holocaust Survivors by Dr. Vivian M. Rakoff, MD, a Canadian psychiatrist).
Laurier, also considered by many to be in the top tier of Canadian PMs, is a bit more of an enigma to most Canadians. That said, he too was a racist and a bigot, especially towards the Chinese (homework assignment: read up on the Chinese Head Tax), and he also helped to sow the seeds of Western Alienation by failing to break the power of the railways, banks and industrial interests, all based in Central Canada. Those were things he promised to do in the first two general elections after Alberta and Saskatchewan gained provincial status and didn’t deliver on.
BTW, Tad makes an excellent point about drawing a distinction between remembering vs honouring.

Last edited 2 years ago by This Red Neck Has No Neck