Kingston, ON – Thursday, June 25, 2020
The Queen’s University Faculty of Law today announced that it is committing to a formal consultation process to review the name of its building, Sir John A. Macdonald Hall.
“Given his role in the formation of Canada, there were good reasons to honour Sir John A. Macdonald when the building was named in 1960,” said Mark Walters, Dean of the Faculty of Law, “but the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has brought greater public awareness to Macdonald’s negative legacies, in particular the development of the Indian residential school policy in Canada.
“In response to concerns raised in this respect, we are therefore beginning a process of consultation on whether the name Sir John A. Macdonald continues to be appropriate for the law school’s building.”
The consultation process will involve the formation of a committee consisting of students, faculty, staff and alumni that will welcome and consider comments from both within and outside the Queen’s community about the law building name. The matter will also be considered by the law school’s Faculty Board.
Based upon these consultations and deliberations, the Dean of Law will present a report and recommendation regarding the name of the building to the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University, Patrick Deane, in late August. The Principal will consider this recommendation and formulate his own recommendation which he will submit to the Board of Trustees, which has authority over University building names, in time for its September meeting.
“The Faculty of Law is the most directly affected by the name of its building, and so I’m pleased that Dean Walters has undertaken this consultation process,” said Principal Deane. “I am confident that comments will be welcomed from across the Queen’s community and beyond, and I look forward to the Dean’s final report and recommendation.”
Since 2016, the law school has been engaged with implementing the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, including hiring an Indigenous Recruitment & Support Officer and the creation of two bursaries to support Indigenous students at the law school. Academically, it has integrated a number of Aboriginal and Indigenous law courses in its curriculum, and recently announced the creation of the Chief Don Maracle Reconciliation/Indigenous Knowledge Initiative. The school has welcomed a wide range of Indigenous lecturers and visitors to the faculty, with 11 scholars and leaders visiting the school in the 2019-20 school year alone. In 2018, it saw the creation and installation of a major piece of public art in its atrium themed on the Indigenous legal tradition of wampum belts, words that are lasting, by Mohawk artist Hannah Claus.
The focus of the consultation process will be on the law building’s present name rather than an alternative name. “We have decided to separate the question of de-naming from the question of re-naming,” said Dean Walters. “Only if the Board of Trustees decides to de-name the building will a separate process regarding a new name commence, a process that would of course be governed by the values, principles, and policies of the University.”
Full details on the process, including a statement from Dean Walters and a timeline detailing next steps, can be found at the Faculty of Law consultation process web page.