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Is Joseph Brant next for cancellation in Burlington?

August 2021

Re: “Burlington asking residents to help rename Ryerson Park,” Burlington Post, 24 August: Now that Ryerson School and Ryerson Park are being re-named, when can we expect Joseph Brant Hospital to be re-named? I’m not here to argue whether Egerton Ryerson was a good person or not, but seeing as Chief Joseph Brant (Thayendanegea) was a slave-owner, does that mean he deserves to be cancelled too?

As Captain Joseph Brant of the British Army, he was accused by the Americans of committing atrocities during the American Revolutionary War, and given the name “Monster Brant.” The accusations were argued by later historians to have been false, but does that matter to the “cancel-culture” crowd?

I was born at Joseph Brant Hospital and grew up admiring the legendary Mohawk warrior. We do have to be careful about judging people from the past by using the standards of today. Yes, slavery and the residential schools were horrific and shameful under any circumstances, but let’s not forget that Brant and Ryerson’s opinions were in line with others of their time. At one time, slavery was socially acceptable, as were the residential schools. Once again, that’s not to say they were right, but we do need to keep it in perspective that they were the norm for their time.

Let’s also not forget that the last residential school closed in 1997, so should we remove honours to all prime ministers up to that point?

Thankfully, we’ve learnt from our past wrongs, and we should do what we can to make amends for them. However, if that includes removing honours from everyone who held beliefs that are no longer socially acceptable, where do we stop? Let’s not forget that same-sex marriage has only been legal in Canada since 2005, and legal in all 50 American States since 2015, and that many, many progressive-minded people were against its legalization.

I certainly don’t want to see Chief Joseph Brant’s name removed from Burlington’s hospital, but I won’t be surprised if it is removed. Will we also have to stop referring to the Tyandaga neighbourhood as such?

Sources: Joseph Brant – Wikipedia.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

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