On July 19, 2021, the Toronto Star published an interview featuring Associate, Christina Gray, entitled “Parks Canada’s Website features Egerton Ryerson – but no mention of his role in creating residential schools” by Political Reporter, Jacques Gallant.
The article examines 34 “national historic person” designations that are currently under review by the government. Gallant notes that some of the biographies of the historic figures are currently taken down from the Parks Canada online directory of federal heritage designations.
Historic figures that are under review include John A. MacDonald, while others like Egerton Ryerson remain online. Ryerson was a controversial figure that has gained a lot of recent attention for being an architect of the Indian residential school system. Even more problematic is that there is no mention that people such as Wilfred Laurier’s biographic content is under review or taken down.
Christina Gray was quoted as saying:
“The reviews spark a number of questions, said Christina Gray, research fellow at the Yellowhead Institute, an Indigenous-led think tank.
‘I think that there should be greater transparency,’ said Gray, who is also a lawyer at Indigenous rights law firm JFK Law Corp. “What’s their methodology? Who is involved in their review? How long will this process take? Are they engaging with those communities who are affected by updates?”
Ultimately it is the Historic Sites and Monument Board of Canada whose mandate includes recommending historical designations to the government. It is Parks Canada who is responsible for installing and maintaining plaques.
Little information about the process of reviewing “national historic person” designations was available online at the time of the interview.