Niagara at Large, August 10, 2108
In the wake of a decision by the city council of Victoria, British Columbia this past August 9th to remove a state of John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister, also often identified as Canada’s ‘Father of Confederation’, emotions have been running high across the country.
Yet, few outbursts reported in the news so far have been received with as much objection as those posted on social media this August 9th and linked to retired Brock University political science professor Garth Stevenson.
Among other tweets posted from Stevenson’s Twitter account, the former Brock prof said the Victoria council made the decision to “appease some snivelling aboriginals.” things posted raised as much
Brock University is distancing itself from a retired professor after he unleashed a racist tirade in a series of tweets linked to the removal of a statue of John A. Macdonald from the front steps of city hall in Victoria, B.C.
In a series of tweets posted Thursday, retired political science professor Garth Stevenson said Victoria is removing the statue of Canada’s first prime minister to “appease some sniveling aboriginals.” Later the twitter user told a person who objected to his views on the matter to “go directly to hell.”
Tweets from Stevenson’s account made several other disparaging remarks about Indigenous people, and attacked other twitter users, in one instance telling another person to “go directly to hell.”
“This is OUR country and not theirs and we don’t need to apologize for being here,” declared the twitter user, adding that he will never converse with a member of that “ethnic group,” meaning Indigenous people, again.
In the spirit of taking steps to reach “truth and reconciliation” with Indigenous peoples, Victoria’s council voted seven to one to remove the statue, calling Macdonald an architect of now defunct, government funded residential schools” that ripped Indigenous children away from their families.
The council also declared him to be a “leader of violence against Indigenous peoples,”
The heads of Brock University, meanwhile, have wasted little time distancing the Niagara-based school from Stevenson and condemning the bile language linked to his social media account.
Here is the news release Brock circulated on the matter this August 10th –
Brock University condemns the inflammatory statements that have appeared on a personal social media account under the name of a former professor who retired from the University in 2012.
The comments, which include vulgar statements about Canada’s Indigenous Peoples, appeared on a Twitter account in the name of Garth Stevenson, a former professor of Political Science.
Tom Dunk, the University’s Provost and Vice-President Academic, said that Stevenson retired more than half a decade ago, is no longer employed by Brock and any comments he makes on social media or elsewhere are solely his own.
“Brock has no connection whatsoever with his views, and abhors comments that have been posted on his social media sites,” said Dunk.
Social Sciences Professor Scott Henderson, who is Chair of the University’s Senate, said he expects a meeting by Senate in the coming days to discuss the honorary title of Professor Emeritus that was given to Stevenson when he retired. The title does not involve active participation on campus, and is routinely conferred upon full professors at their retirement.
Brock President Gervan Fearon said the University is appalled, and shares the pain and frustration felt by many members of the campus community, and in particular members of the Indigenous community, caused by the online posting.
“Brock remains steadfast in its commitment to advancing an inclusive and respectful work and learning environment, and calls upon all members of the campus community to respectfully engage each other with kindness and humility,” said Fearon.
“The abhorrent online comments emphasize why it is important that efforts continue to be made across Canadian society and all communities to advance the Calls to Action established under the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as well as equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives.”
Fearon said Brock is a leader in advancing inclusivity and human rights on campus, and is committed to following the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Initiatives to advance reconciliation at Brock include the creation of the President’s Advisory Committee on Human Rights, Equity and Decolonization (PACHRED); hiring a Vice-Provost of Indigenous Engagement; hiring a Director of Human Rights and Equity; and the creation of the Two Row, One Dish, One Spoon Council, a special committee to advise the University Senate on issues related to Indigenous education.
A Footnote from Niagara At Large –
Here is one of the tweets linked to Stevenson’s social media account.