Steenkamp on statues and history

President Steenkamp smiling in front of Hatley Castle

In light of the vandalizing of a statue in front of the BC Legislature during a protest, The Georgia Straight has revisited Royal Roads President Philip Steenkamp’s video on statues and history from 2020.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

The defacing of Queen Victoria's statue came in the same week that Toronto protesters dragged down a statue of Egerton Ryerson, a key architect of the Indian residential school program.

Last year, Royal Roads University president Philip Steenkamp created a video offering perspective on the growing chorus of criticism over statues honouring colonial figures.

Steenkamp, who was a historian before becoming a senior civil servant and university administrator, disagrees with those who argue that anti-statue demonstrators are somehow erasing history.

"Statues are not history lessons," Steenkamp said. "They are meant to shape our perception of history for particular purposes—usually to reinforce the existing order and the position of the rich and powerful.

"A statue is not a history of lesson. It's a way of celebrating, venerating, or honouring someone."

Moreover, Steenkamp maintained that statues are a part of history, rather than objects that serve to record history.

Read the full article at The Georgia Straight.