Memorial Vigil for Residential School Victims in Saint John

On June 6th at 7 pm in King Square in Saint John there will be a Memorial Vigil for Residential School Victims.

As you walk up King street to King Square there stands the War Memorial. To the right of the War Memorial is a statue of Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley, Father of Confederation. Believed to have suggested the name Dominion of Canada. He was Minister of Finance from 17th Oct 1878- 11th Nov 1885 as such he brought in the National Policy.
Other events that happened during his tenure as Finance Minister of the Government of Canada. The creation of the Federal Residential School System 1883. The arrest and trial of Louis Riel July 1885 Tilley tenure as Finance minister ended 5 days before Riel was hanged.


The following are excerpts from Clearing the Plains by James Daschuk PH.D. in History from the University of Manitoba.

Under Treaty 6 the Dominion Government should provide relief in case of a ” national famine”. When the Bison herds collapsed in the late 1870’s. “The region wide famine that ensued and the inability of the authorities to provide adequate food relief sparked the widespread emergence of tuberculosis among immune-compromised communities. By the turn of the 1880’s, dominion officials tailored their response to the famine to further their own agenda of development in the west.”
” As if famine and an outbreak of scarlet fever were not enough of a burden for aboriginal population of the plains, the return of John A. Macdonald and his conservatives to power under the platform of the National Policy brought a new approach to Indian policy. Management of the increasingly serious food situation and Indian affairs generally shifted from a position of ‘relative ignorance’ under the Liberals to one of outright malevolence during the Macdonald regime. “Pacification” of the plains Indians was an integral, if not always explicit, component of the Tory government’s program of development. to ensure that the west would be ready for the Canadian Pacific Railway and settlement, Macdonald himself became superintendent general of Indian affairs.”
“Minister of Finance Sir Leonard Tilley proposed the use of Indian labour as a means to offset the high cost of aid to the northwest, but remarkably no concerted attempted was made by the authorities to provide the plains Indians with gainful employment other than cutting of firewood.”
“The dominion did not increase its expenditures to counter the growing crisis. In fact , the government responded to Liberal criticism that aid to the Indians was a waste of public money by making even more stringent cuts in its famine relief. Sir Leonard Tilley, the finance minister, stated the policy directive succinctly: ” They must work or starve.”
Tilley’s statue tells half the story of the man. I don’t want to cancel culture I want to see an expansion of our culture the good the bad and the ugly. When you tell half a story you’re not sharing history you’re pushing a narrative an agenda. Tilley’s statue should have more plaque’s telling his whole history and his role in the darker chapters of our history. And we should also have  statues of those who stood against that narrative that agenda. Statue’s of Louis Riel, Poundmaker, Big Bear, Joseph Howe and Charles Tupper and other the known and the unknown . Who were able to imagine a different more just relationship between Canada, First Nations and Metis  If we don’t understand our history and how we got here then we are going to continue to make excuses. And continue repeating the injustice’s
                                                            Phil Blaney
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