Wilmot Township council set to decide future of Prime Minister’s Path

The fate of Wilmot Township’s Prime Minister’s Path project will soon be decided.

A presentation is being brought forward to council in a special meeting on Monday and will advise the removal of all existing statues in the community.

This comes months after a statue of Sir John A. Macdonald, which was on display in front of Castle Kilbride in Baden, was put away following multiple acts of vandalism.

“The divisiveness has been allowed to fester for a long time and I would like to see us move forward,” said Coun. Cheryl Gordijk.

The report by the First Peoples Group will be discussed ahead of the vote whether or not to remove the remaining statues from the path.

“We’re not saying eliminate, melt them down, all that, nobody is saying that,” said Guy Freedman, president of the group. “They’re saying let’s find a better way to tell a better story.”

The Indigenous advisory firm has consulted more than 450 residents since April and is recommending the immediate removal and discontinuation of the project.

“The ignoring of the Indigenous voices of our community, where we sit on two treaty lands, I think was negligent,” said Gordijk.

Freedman adds their consultation involved talking to youth and leaders tomorrow.

“It was considerable to say to the youth ‘what do you think about this? You will inherit this place,’” he said.

One youth says the statues should be removed because they inflict generational trauma for people, while another youth says the statues should stay up to bring awareness to the community about the topic.

Following the horrific findings of unmarked graves at former residential school sites, Freedman says many people wanted to resubmit and reconsider their responses.

The firm is also advising the township to create a working group to support community healing and commit to transforming engagement in the township.

Delegations will follow the presentation, with each being capped at five minutes of speaking time.

“To give it some response to people that would be in the audience listening,” said Gordijk. “There’s still ongoing trauma and pain and sorrow and grief.”