Amid the widening debate about the removal of the names and statues of controversial, colonial-era figures from public places, The Canadian Encyclopedia asked three writers to offer their opinions on the subject. In this article, author and historian Ken McGoogan argues against both replacement and the status quo, and suggests a third option.
That stately building at the northwest corner of Hastings and Granville is known as the Sinclair Centre today. It houses federal offices, upscale clothing shops and a small mall. It was once Vancouver’s main Post Office, the site of “Bloody Sunday,” a violent Depression-era clash between police and unemployed workers.
The Oka Crisis was a 78-day standoff (11 July–26 September 1990) between Mohawk protesters, police, and army. At the heart of the crisis was the proposed expansion of a golf course and development of condominiums on disputed land that included a Mohawk burial ground. Tensions were high, particularly after the death of Corporal Marcel Lemay, a police officer, and the situation was only resolved after the army was called in. While the golf course expansion was cancelled, and the land purchased by the federal government, it has not yet been transferred to the Kanesatake community.
The Windsor Ford Strike was a 99-day strike from 12 September to 19 December 1945 by 11,000 employees of the Windsor, Ontario, Ford Motor Company plant. Some 8,000 auto workers from other plants also participated. The Ford workers, who were led by the United Automobile Workers of Canada (UAW), demanded recognition of their union by Ford and mandatory membership for all plant workers. The strike was ultimately resolved through binding arbitration under Supreme Court Justice Ivan C. Rand and resulted in the widely used Rand Formula.
The Sir George Williams affair (also known as the Sir George Williams riot) took place in winter 1969, when more than 200 students decided to peacefully occupy the ninth floor of the Henry F. Hall Building at Sir George Williams University in Montréal. These students were protesting the university administration’s decision regarding a complaint of racism that had been filed several months earlier by six Black students from the Caribbean. On 11 February 1969, to dislodge the students occupying the building, the police intervened forcefully, and the situation deteriorated, resulting in over $2 million worth of damage and the arrest of 97 people. The Sir George Williams affair is regarded as the largest student riot in Canadian history. For many observers and historians, it represents a key moment in the rebirth of black militancy in Montréal.
On 10 March 1957, the 1,000 workers of Gaspé Copper Mines in Murdochville, Québec, struck for the right to unionize. The conflict lasted 7 months and ended in defeat for the miners. Moreover, a 15-year judicial battle finally awarded the company $1.5 million in damages from the United Steelworkers of America ("Métallos" in Québec).
The Winnipeg General Strike, 15 May-25 June 1919, is Canada's best-known general strike. Massive unemployment and inflation, the success of the Russian Revolution in 1917, and rising Revolutionary Industrial Unionism all contributed to the postwar labour unrest that fuelled the landmark strike.