Less than two weeks after protesters in Montreal pulled down and defaced a statue of John Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister, the founding father’s legacy took another hit: his severed bronze head was put on a postage stamp.
James Bone, a federal government employee who curates stamp collections at Library and Archives Canada, reportedly had a sheet of stamps made featuring a photo of the head that was broken off Macdonald’s statue when the memorial was pulled down by demonstrators on Aug. 29 at Montreal’s Dominion Square.
The sheet was made using a service in which Canada Post prints custom stamps featuring customer photos – as long as the images don’t violate its decency rules.
Bone earlier this week posted a picture of the stamps on his since-deleted Twitter account as a protest against colonialism. He offered to give a free stamp to people whose ancestors were “f**ked over” by the former PM.
Organized black bloc militants have toppled the statue of Canada’s first prime minister, John Macdonald, in Montreal. They used umbrellas & sheets to shield their criminal comrades. The statue’s head broke off as it crashed to the ground. #BLMpic.twitter.com/ViarNxmJbh
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) August 29, 2020
The response was so strong that Bone tried to get more sheets of the stamp printed, but by then, Canada Post had realized its error and said the image violated its terms and conditions and shouldn’t have been printed the first time.
“We apologize and will take measures to ensure our vetting and approval processes are strengthened and closely followed,” Canada Post told Global News.
“I think I just got lucky the first time around. Somebody was sort of asleep at the printer,” Bone told Vice News. “Stamps represent the official image of the country, and sometimes the official image of the country isn’t the more nuanced truth of its history,” he added.
The toppling of Macdonald’s statue followed similar attacks on historical figures in the US and Europe by left-wing activists. Macdonald served as prime minister from 1867 to 1873 and from 1878 to 1891.
He’s ranked by historians as one of Canada’s three most accomplished prime ministers, but he has been faulted in recent years for supporting residential schools that tried to assimilate indigenous children, whom he referred to as “savages,” into Western ways. Children were removed from their families and forbidden to speak their native languages. Many were exposed to physical or sexual abuse.
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