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News Release - Queen’s University to remove Sir John A. Macdonald name from law school building

Monday, October 19, 2020

Kingston ON - The Queen’s Board of Trustees today approved the university’s decision to remove the name “Sir John A. Macdonald” from the law school building, as recommended by Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane following his acceptance of recommendations made by Dean Mark Walters, Dean of Faculty of Law, and a report from a special committee set up to consider the situation.

“This decision is grounded in the university’s present-day academic mission and commitment to honour the values of equity, diversity, and inclusivity and to ensure all students, faculty, and staff feel welcome within the Queen’s community,” says Principal Deane. “It also supports our commitment to take action to address systemic racism and ensure every member of our community may enjoy the benefits of our institution equally.”

The decision follows a two-month public consultation process that saw more than 3,000 members of the Queen’s community and others submit feedback to the Macdonald Hall Consultation Advisory Committee. Principal Deane directed the Faculty of Law to set up the advisory committee in July, in response to an online petition calling for the law school building to be renamed.

The advisory committee delivered a 65-page report to Dean Walters recommending the Macdonald name be removed from the building. This recommendation was accepted by Dean Walters and then endorsed by Principal Deane before being sent to the Board of Trustees for final approval.

“Sir John A. Macdonald is rightly celebrated for his central role in the founding of modern Canada and the creation of our country’s constitution. However, a more complete understanding of his legacies has emerged in recent years. In particular, we now have a richer and better understanding of the hurtful views and policies he and his government advanced in relation to Indigenous peoples and racial minorities,” says Dean Mark Walters. “What was made clear through our consultations is that the Macdonald name sends a conflicting message that interferes with the values and aspirations of the current law school and Queen’s community where Indigenous and racialized students must feel welcome and included.”

In 2015 the final report of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) made clear the legacy of residential schools is hurtful and lasting. Queen’s University has accepted the findings of the TRC and is committed to honouring its calls to action. The Truth & Reconciliation Commission also identifies special responsibilities for law schools in Canada, and Queen’s Law must ensure that the faculty lives up to those responsibilities.

“During this era of truth and reconciliation, it’s important to consider how we move forward together with a good mind and in peace for the greater good for all peoples,” says Kanonhsyonne Janice Hill, Associate Vice-Principal of Indigenous Initiatives. “As Haudenosaunee we are taught in our decision making to reflect on and be mindful of the past while considering the impact on future generations. This decision affirms that Queen’s is headed in that direction in terms of creating a safe and equitable space where each member of the community has a strong sense of belonging.  As we continue to dismantle these colonial symbols, we get closer to achieving an inclusive community for all.”

Queen’s will be following a separate process to eventually rename the faculty of law building. Principal Deane will bring recommendations to the Board of Trustees around a renaming process in the coming months. More details about this process will be shared in due course.

The Queen’s community will also be engaged over the course of this academic year in acting on the recent Declaration of Commitment to Address Systemic Racism and on Principal Deane’s Report on The Conversation with the Queen’s community. Both commit Queen’s to take action to address systemic racism and to unite the community, improving the experience of every member so that all may enjoy the benefits of our institution equally.

To see the recommendations from Queen’s Principal Patrick Deane and Faculty of Law Dean Mark Walters, as well as the advisory committee’s report, visit the Principal’s website.

 

Media Contacts   

Julie Brown
Media Relations Officer
343-363-2763
Julie.brown@queensu.ca  

Anne Craig
Media Relations Officer 
613-533-2877
anne.craig@queensu.ca   

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