BarrieToday welcomes letters to the editor at email@example.com. Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is in response to another letter to the editor titled 'LETTER: Simcoe Day should be celebrated more widely, says Barrie resident' published on Aug. 2.
I’m afraid I don’t share Mr. Mueller's enthusiasm for 'Simcoe Day' as a credible festivity or holiday of any kind.
An article entitled 'John Graves Simcoe’s weird relationship with slavery,' published by Spacing Toronto, highlights the more sordid relationship this controversial British officer had with slaves and slavery.
In short, he is accused of making compromises with politician slave owners so his abolitionist bill would ensure “no new slaves” were purchased here in Canada. Slave owners could still kidnap their “property” and place them beyond the reach of the British government’s laws by selling them to American southerners.
A particularly upsetting incident occurred when one slave owner kidnapped his slave and delivered her into the hands of an American buyer while she was still tied with ropes.
Author Adam Bunch explains that this particular incident moved Simcoe into striking a compromise with British settlers that enabled them to keep the slaves they already held. That’s not exactly the dashing sort of heroism we ought to attribute to a man like Simcoe.
Either one knows right from wrong, or one does not. That’s like saying one ought to think better of the Nazis if they suddenly stopped murdering Jewish people, but passed a ‘comprising law’ saying only the people still interred in death camps must remain there.
Then there’s the time Lord Simcoe had to crush the Haiti revolution of former slaves fighting against their former masters.
It is undoubtedly hard for us to overlook the glory of national history, I don’t deny that. But at some point, one has to look at the shameful things and really decide to change the privileged majority’s ways for the sake of humanity.
Charlottesville officials removed the city statue of General Robert E. Lee because he represented a nation whose economic might came at the expense of black lives and freedom. The same discussion is happening in Canada with respect to John A. Macdonald and Egerton Ryerson over the residential school deaths.
To quote Zyahna Bryant, a student at the University of Virginia who was instrumental in the Lee statue’s removal: “No platform for racism. No platform for hate.”