City Hall, no problem. Go over Reconciliation bridge. Turn left at Apology avenue. Another left at Sorry street. Down Mea-Culpa Boulevard and you’re there.
That’s the text from an editorial cartoon published in the Calgary Herald.
It caught the attention of Dustin Louie.
“It doesn’t shock me that someone would have written this cartoon, but it shocks me that it would pass a number of editors before it was published in the paper,” said the First Nation professor of Social Justice at the University of Calgary.
The cartoon was penned after Calgary city council voted to change the name of the Langevin Bridge.
The bridge was named after Sir Hector-Louis Langevin, a father of Canada’s confederation.
Langevin played a major role in establishing the residential school system system that would see tens of thousands of Indigenous children ripped from their parents arms and forced into state run schools.
In 1883 he stated that Aboriginal children must be separated from their families or they will remain savages.
While at the schools, many were abused mentally, physically and sexually. It was also against the rules to practice their ceremonies or speak their language. Doing so could result in severe punishment.
In Jan., Calgary city council voted to rename the bridge to Reconciliation Bridge and considered it a step towards reconciliation.
Dustin Louie believes the cartoon is a shot at reconciliation.
“I expected some aspects of society to be frustrated with this attempt to reconcile the two communities,” he said. “But to have a mainstream newspaper trivializing the process was extremely frustrating for me.”
Louie sent a letter of complaint to the Herald outlining how the cartoon hinders the attempt at reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous peoples.
“I think something like this empowers people with intolerant perspective of thinking that indigenous people are getting too much from the government or there’s too much attention paid to the experiences that they’ve had,” he said.
No one at the Calgary Herald was available for an interview with APTN, and the paper did not offer up artist John Larter to speak. The cartoon does not appear to be on the Calgary Herald’s website.
But Calgary Herald editor Jose Rodriguez did send a comment in an email that states in part:
“While editorial cartoons are the view of the artists and not the paper, the cartoon was seen as a comment on how many wrongs have been inflicted upon Indigenous people in our country,” said Rodriguez in the statement. “Those wrongs have resulted in a mountain of apologies.”
Dustin Louie said that is correct, but …
“The newspaper, of course, has the right to publish whatever they want in there. But they should expect a push back from the larger community,” said Louie. “Not just the indigenous community but non-indigenous community as well. I hope they publish the reaction as much as they publish the argument in the first place.”
The prime minister’s official office in Ottawa, across from parliament hill is also named after Hector-Louis Langevin.