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Continue the Statue Project

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Petition: Continue the Statue Project at Wilfrid Laurier University

In June 2015, stories in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record, and on cbc.ca, reported that Wilfrid Laurier University had agreed to install, donated bronze statues of all 22 Canadian Prime Ministers. The statues themselves are donated, free of charge. 

We believe that this is an idea worth supporting, and call on University President Max Blouw and Jamie Martin, Chair of the Board of Governors, to go through with this project as originally intended.

This idea has faced backlash on the grounds that it is "politically and culturally insensitive (if not offensive) to celebrate and memorialize all Canadian Prime Ministers in the form of bronze statues on land that traditionally belongs to the Neutral, Anishnawbe and Haudenosaunee peoples" stated by Jonathan Finn in his petition. 

Furthermore, it has been argued that "It will create, at the very least, an uncomfortable environment for 99 per cent of students to walk through a place filled with statues of white men and one white woman, people who have perpetuated crimes against First Nations,” said Jaydenne Lavallie, a fourth-year student in global studies who is Métis. “The very last statue that would go up is of Stephen Harper, a man who was just voted out of office and who used his last month in office to foment anti-Muslim feelings,” she said. 

We believe that the statements above are misguided, and aim to take away an incredible opportunity to learn, in a creative fashion, about past Canadian Prime Ministers.

According to the logic set fourth by Professor Finn's statement, the very existence of a university named after Sir Wilfrid Laurier on what he considers to be First Nations land is a problem, which would undermine the entire university as a whole. Ironically, Dr. Finn seems fine with the idea of teaching his classes on this land, and happily gets paid to do so.

In addition, the quote by Jaydenne Lavallie, which also appears in the Globe and Mail article below, cites a statistic that has not been sourced, and uses the race of past Prime Ministers to justify opposition. She also uses Stephen Harper as an example of a Prime Minister whom she disagrees with.

We believe that erecting these statues will allow for a more thorough examination of past Prime Ministers, which will be the perfect segway to discuss exactly what each Prime Minister did wrong or right during their time in office.

We believe that Canadian history is filled with examples of both sadness and success, and this reality is important to come to terms with for anyone interested in bettering their understanding of Canada. History is useful because it allows for us to learn from our mistakes, so by attempting to suppress historical fact, we are only disadvantaging ourselves. 

To use the example of First Nations, it is crucial that we understand why we must remain sensitive to the needs of people who have such a background, and having these statues is a fantastic way to start to make that connection clear.  

So once again, we believe that this project should go forward as intended, for the reasons already stated. Neglecting to enhance our campus due to a handful of offended people, would set a dangerous precedent of caving to anyone with a grievance. That is NOT in the best interest of students.

http://www.therecord.com/news-story/5702553-prime-ministers-statues-project-lands-at-wilfrid-laurier-university-albeit-not-without-opposition/

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/kitchener-waterloo/wilfrid-laurier-to-house-22-life-size-statues-of-canadian-pms-1.3132952

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/wilfrid-laurier-university-to-reconsider-plan-for-prime-ministers-statues/article26919867/  



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