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Set in Stone? Conflict and Compromise in Orillia, Ontario


Set in Stone? Conflict and Compromise in Orillia, Ontario

Latham, Graham (2022) Set in Stone? Conflict and Compromise in Orillia, Ontario. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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The past decade has seen an international wave of public debate regarding monuments and commemorative practices, as societies attempt to come to terms with histories of colonialism, slavery, and white supremacy. In Orillia, Ontario, controversy has proliferated around a monument to Samuel de Champlain, erected in 1925 to commemorate “the advent of the white race into Ontario,” and seen by many as offensive to Indigenous peoples and people of colour generally. In 2017 the monument was removed for refurbishing, and the Samuel de Champlain Monument Working Group (SCMWG) was struck to consider options for its potential remediation, in the spirit of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Up to the present, the process has yet to yield definitive results. Based on archival research, newspaper reporting, and two participant interviews, this study examines the SCMWG process as it has unfolded in the community and seeks to evaluate its effectiveness in addressing the problematic aspects of the monument. My conclusions are two-fold. First, I find that the discourse surrounding the process skewed towards a minimalist understanding of the monument’s embedded symbolic meanings, and as such failed to engage with a robust understanding of its problematic messaging. Second, I find the twin goals of honouring the TRC and representing popular public opinion to conflict with one another, to the detriment of the former. Overall, while based in a good faith intention, the SCMWG thus far has proven a missed opportunity to engage meaningfully with the project of “reconciliation” with Indigenous peoples.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > History
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Latham, Graham
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Date:22 July 2022
Thesis Supervisor(s):High, Steven
ID Code:990976
Deposited On:27 Oct 2022 14:34
Last Modified:27 Oct 2022 14:34
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