Demolishing of museum exhibits troubling
Re: The plan to demolish the exhibits at the Royal B.C. Museum and re-imaging the past
I was shocked to hear that Melanie Mark, British Columbia’s minister of Tourism, is determined to dismantle the exhibits on the third floor of the Royal B.C. Museum. These installations include the Old Town, a re-creation of a 19th century street in Victoria. It’s one of the most vivid memories I have of the museum, walking past shops and hotel rooms and sitting in a tiny waiting room as the sound of a steam locomotive arrives at the station.
In spite of the great outcry over this news, the decision stands. This depiction of the world inhabited by our great-grandparents has been judged an inaccurate representation of our province’s history. It is a glorification of Eurocentric colonialism and the minister wants it eradicated.
What troubles me is that there is a movement afoot to condemn the “sins” of the past by robbing our ancestors of any credit for their accomplishments. It troubles me even more that so much attention is devoted to punishing the past instead of building peace in the present.
When I consider the movement to pull down historical monuments, I see people acting with a misguided confidence in their own prejudices and virtues. The very same kind of confidence that motivated our ancestors to commit the sins that are now condemned. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote: “The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” First Nations elders recognize the truth of this observation. The parable of the two wolves, attributed to the Cherokee people, renders the same message.
There is much to mourn and much to correct in our relationship with indigenous people. However, punishing the sinners of history could encourage the spirit of arrogance to live on in a new generation. Which wolf are we willing to feed?