‘Send him back’: Halifax hosts first consultation on commemorating Cornwallis

On Jan. 31, 2018, the Halifax Regional Municipality removed the Edward Cornwallis statue from its downtown park. File/ Global News

Halifax has hosted its first public engagement session on how to commemorate both its colonial history and its rich Indigenous heritage — a mission launched after the removal of the controversial Edward Cornwallis statue.

The consultation took place at the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre on Thursday evening, where residents discussed the fate of the statue, which was removed from the park bearing its name in January last year.

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Cornwallis, the founder of Halifax, is infamous for putting a bounty on Mi’kmaw scalps in 1749, while serving as governor of Nova Scotia.

Speakers on Thursday were overwhelmingly against keeping his effigy in the city, and further, suggested renaming Cornwallis Street in the downtown part of the city.

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WATCH: (Jan. 22, 2019) Cornwallis Street name being revisited

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Cornwallis Street name being revisited

“Would you name a street in Nova Scotia ‘Hitler Street?'” asked Denise Pictou Maloney. “I certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable with it, knowing that this man perpetuated genocide.

“If we’re talking about a statue specifically or the name of a street, you should absolutely not have any ounce of celebration about someone who could do such a thing,” added Mitchell Moxom.

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The Task Force on the Commemoration of Edward Cornwallis and the Recognition and Commemoration of Indigenous History will host three more consultations in Nova Scotia — one on June 11 at Saint Mary’s in Halifax, one on June 13 at the Millbrook Community Centre, and one on June 18 at the Zatzman Sportsplex in Dartmouth.

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Its co-chair, Chief Roderick Googoo, said he hopes that eventually, discussions will move beyond the Cornwallis statue. He encouraged everyone to weigh in, given what’s at stake:

“I think it’s just the history of the Miꞌkmaq, the history of the Europeans who arrived on the shore, and also the path forward,” he told Global News.

“How do we reconcile and how do we, you know, look beyond the statue itself?”

The task force has been asked to report its findings within two years, but says that if it needs more time to do so, it will take that time.

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