The fate of the statues


Graphic by Lena Yang
Graphic by Lena Yang

On November 5, Max Blouw, president and vice-chancellor of Wilfrid Laurier University, issued a statement noting the formation of a special advisory committee that will provide advice and recommendations to the university’s Senate and board of governors on moving forward with the prime minister statue project.

Joel Peters, Laurier’s assistant vice-president of external relations and member of the prime minister statues advisory committee, said especially with the different views of the project on campus, it is best to have a group of representatives come together.

“The feeling is this is the best way to have a representative group come together to fully understand and I guess educate each other about the project through a sort of communication information gathering phase,” said Peters.

The committee will discuss the pros and cons of the statue project and how to support it. At the end of their discussion, the committee will give Blouw recommendations on how the university can best proceed.

Members of the special advisory committee include a representative of the board and senior advisor of Aboriginal initiatives, Jean Becker, as well an additional Aboriginal representative.

“We’re leaving it up to the groups to decide how to represent themselves,” said Peters.

Student representatives will also take part in the meeting, including a member of the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union and a representative from Wilfrid Laurier University Graduate Students Association.

A member from Laurier’s Arts Divisional Council Student Members will also be part of the committee.

“Because so much of the discussion has come out of the arts, we’ve asked the arts divisional council who have a variety of divisional representatives.”

Other campus associations taking part in the committee include Laura Mae Lindo, director of diversity and equity office, and the principal-dean of the Waterloo Lutheran Seminary, Mark Harris.

The prime minister statue project was unveiled on the Laurier campus on June 30.

The project, originally proposed for Kitchener’s Victoria Park and later rejected by city council, was supposed to incorporate 22 prime minister statues around the Waterloo campus. The first statue to be erected was John A. Macdonald in the campus Quad.

Laurier’s board of governors approved the statues proposal on June 25.

On October 20, the university Senate approved a motion to oppose the project and asked the board to cancel Laurier’s involvement in it.

In his statement, Blouw asks that the special advisory committee consider the presentation, history and development of the statues when discussing a recommendation.

“First, the PM statues project was initiated in good faith and with the best of intentions. Second, as a university community it is essential that we encourage and welcome reasoned, respectful and informed discussions, no matter what the issue,” Blouw said in his statement.

“It’s going to be an interesting discussion and I think Dr. Blouw’s statement sort of indicates sort of a tone and philosophy that he’d like to bring it to,” Peters said.

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