Opinion

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- by Martin Donald

I wanted to comment about an opinion piece that Jim Cummings had posted at the owensoundhub.org about the irony of having an Orange Lodge at the Pratie Oaten, Irish Festival at Grey Roots.
It is very coincidental that Grey Roots built the Orange Lodge in 2017, when we around the world are trying to deal with monuments, whether they be statues, plaques or schools named after individuals, that are inherently negative. We saw indigenous protests in Halifax centered around a statue of Edward Cornwallis, Protests, riots and murders in Charlottesville, North Carolina all centered around a confederate monument and we saw Grey Roots complete a building, a monument to Protestant Ethno-Nationalism.
That statement might seem extreme unless you know that my father's family were Orangemen in Northern Ireland. Many of my relatives there are still active in the Orange Order.
I have been involved with Grey Roots since its inception. I have been a member of the heritage committee and as a volunteer blacksmith since Grey Roots opened its doors. Before that I was cleaning and recording horse drawn vehicles at the old museum site. I love local history and the artifacts that it left behind. There are however, elements of local history and my own family history of which we can all be ashamed. The institutionalized racism of the Orange Order is one.
When I was a member of the museum's heritage committee, there was tremendous pressure from local Orangemen, with members like Bill Murdoch to adopt an Orange Lodge. Unfortunately my opposition was eventually ignored. Who needs a bigger picture?
After his experience with the Royal Irish Rifles in WWI, my grandfather renounced his connections to the Orange Lodge. He also renounced the connection to the Protestant militias that were an extension of Orange membership. He renounced officially sanctioned terrorism.
As long as the Orange Lodge stands at Grey Roots, I can no longer support it in any way.
Thank you to Jim Cummings for writing his original post. My family history can confirm that, yes, the Orange Lodge is and always has been opposed to Irish Culture. Please don't take our word for it. Please do your own research and reach your own conclusions. Please look up how many times that the Catholic church on the Irish block road was burned down.
My feeling is that the success of the construction of this building seems concurrent with the rise of far right elements in the US and Europe. Remember that Irish immigration was also strongly opposed at one time.

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