I am troubled by appeals to combat racism by tearing down buildings, changing street names and destroying statues. These actions can perpetuate racism by hiding history.
The Woodland Cultural Centre’s Save the Evidence campaign seems like a more reasoned approach. Instead of tearing down the Mohawk Institute Residential School, they are preserving it as a witness to what happened there. Instead of changing street names and destroying statues, why not add a plaque that tells the dark side of the history they commemorate?
How many people know that when cottage lots were created along Lake Erie, many of the deeds contained a covenant that they could never be sold to Blacks? How many people know that while Ruthven was undergoing a multi-million dollar restoration, no house built by Black settlers in the same area at the same time was being preserved?
Hiding history helps perpetrators, not victims. Let’s preserve the evidence, not destroy it. If we destroy our history, how can we learn from it?