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Idle No More activists demonstrate in front of Sir John’s Public House. – Hollie Pratt-Campbell/Metroland Protesters in front of Sir John A.’s Public House on Sept. 4. – Hollie Pratt-Campbell/Metroland A Labour Day weekend promotion was the subject of some controversy for a local pub.

In a Facebook post in the final week of August, Sir John’s Public House announced a promotion called “I LOVE SIR JOHN A.” It read:

“Kingston’s Sir John A. has been taking a lot of heat lately. As we celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday we have to recognize that there would be no Canada today if it were not for him. Despite his warts, he was an astute statesman and politician and father of Canada. This holiday weekend, from Friday through Monday, we will feature our “I LOVE SIR JOHN A” promotion. Come into the pub and tell your server that you love Sir John A. and you can enjoy our Macdonald Mac & Cheese and a pint of Old Tomorrow Canada Pale Ale (named after Sir John A. — his nickname was Old Tomorrow) for just $15 plus taxes. Happy Labour Day Canada!”

The post received backlash from many community members for its unapologetic celebration of a controversial historical figure; it was deleted relatively quickly and the promotion cancelled, but that did not erase the impact for local Idle No More activists, who organized a demonstration in front of the pub on Monday, Sept. 4.

Protesters spoke into a megaphone so that all patrons on the patio, and anyone walking by, could hear their message of the wrongs Macdonald committed against Indigenous people loud and clear. An effigy of Macdonald was hanged, rope around neck, from the window above a neighbouring business, and the group passed out pamphlets to passersby featuring a quote from the first prime minister that read “Kill the Indian in the child or he’s simply a savage who can read and write.”

Organizer Krista Flute said that the Sir John’s Public House has been on the group’s radar for a while.

“We’ve just been waiting for a chance to go,” she said. “Cancelling the promotion doesn’t change the fact that they created this pub — Sir John’s Public House — because they celebrate him, because they honour him. Their whole website is about how wonderful he is and this was his law office and yay, let’s all drink in John A’s name.”

Flute said that policies Macdonald put in place are still hurting Indigenous people today, and that Canada is still “committing multiple counts of genocide against Indigenous people in this country.”

“Your economy is dependent on the domination of us Indigenous people and our lands. That is white supremacy. We know that systemic racism still continues. His policies aren’t something of the past. They’re something continuous. The residential school was replaced with Scoop. That policy, that practice never ended, it’s just changed the front that it takes.”

Celebrating Macdonald, said Flute, is a way of continuing to support systemic racism and colonialism in Canada.

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