The Edward Cornwallis statue in Cornwallis Park in south-end Halifax. The Canadian Press.

Halifax council debates immediate removal of Edward Cornwallis statue

Days after Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq chiefs called for the statue to be taken down, councillors debate city’s controversial founder

Halifax council is debating the immediate removal of a statue of Edward Cornwallis from a city park.

Days after Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq chiefs called for the statue to be taken down, councillors are considering placing the bronze figure of the city’s controversial founder in storage until a decision is made on its long-term fate.

Mayor Mike Savage told council that the issue of truth and reconciliation is in the public square, and has been a long time coming.

Speaking from prepared notes, he says that “we are all a product of our history,” but we do not have to be a prisoner to it.

The mayor told council that removing the statue is not about re-writing history, but acknowledging that history is also not “not cast in bronze.”

A staff report suggests the Cornwallis statue could be taken down and stored at a cost of about $25,000.

It says it is concerned about rising tensions around the statue, citing a planned protest Sunday that could result in “damage to the statue, conflicts among protesters and counter-protesters and personal injury.”

“The statue has increasingly become a flashpoint for protests,” states the document, dated Jan. 27.

“Clashes arising from protests and counter-protests of controversial statues in other jurisdictions have in some cases resulted in injury and damage to public property and in a worst case, death. There is a reputational risk to Halifax from the attention associated with this unrest.”

Halifax councillors voted last fall to launch a special advisory committee that would provide council with advice on what to do with Cornwallis commemorations, as well as make recommendations for honouring Indigenous history.

But the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs said it was frustrated with a process that has dragged on for “far too long” and the amount of time it has taken the panel to meet after it was first announced last October. On Friday, it called on the city to remove the statue from a downtown park.

The assembly said it submitted names of potential Mi’kmaq panellists, but the committee has yet to be formed.

The council report also calls on the mayor to “re-engage” the assembly in the committee.

“Removing the statue offers the opportunity to reduce the current volatility around discussions of commemoration, protect the statue, and undertake a public engagement in a less charged environment than is currently the case,” it states.

Last summer, members of the assembly tried to quell a grassroots protest calling for the statue’s removal.

The assembly’s stance was cited by Savage when he spoke out against the apparent threat to public property ahead of the event, which he later attended as the city temporarily covered the bronze figure in tarp.

Organizers have planned another “Removing Cornwallis” rally this weekend, which activists have said was partly inspired by the assembly’s recent call for action.

Cornwallis is a disputed character seen by some as a brave leader who founded Halifax, but by others as the commander of a bloody and barbaric extermination campaign against Mi’kmaq inhabitants.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Thieves can’t steal Nanaimo’s tubbing spirit

Thieves pilfer motors, but good friends and hard work get tubbers back on course

Group raising money to stop Parksville supportive housing project

GoFundMe page has $15K for lawyer fees raised since July 8

Youth council chairman wants to move up to Nanaimo city council

Michael Ribicic declares candidacy in fall’s local government election

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Strategic planning needed in Nanaimo school district

I find it ironic that the school expansion comes on the heels of recent school closure decisions

Tilray shares show gains in opening trading

Investors buy, sell in rush on stock offered by Nanaimo-based cannabis producer

BC Games: Dance, spoken-word highlights at Opening Ceremony in Cowichan

Hundreds of athletes and thousands of volunteers, coaches, parents and officials

Beefs & Bouquets, July 19

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail bulletinboard@nanaimobulletin.com

Final arguments made at tent city hearing, court won’t rule immediately

Lawyer says City of Nanaimo is concerned occupants would consume hand sanitizer

B.C. city wants pot punted from farmland

Concerned about conversion from growing food to making marijuana

UPDATED: Cougar shot by police in Nanaimo

Shooting occurred in water at Nanaimo Yacht Club at about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday

NRE will sell its land, plans for a new depot there are ‘over’

Nanaimo Recycling Exchange board decides to sell Kenworth Road property

World’s translators push back on forcing Trump interpreter to testify

Democrats had asked translator to testify about Trump’s lengthy conversation with Putin in Helsinki

No decision on B.C. school stabbing suspect’s mental fitness for trial

The BC Review Board could not determine whether Gabriel Klein, 21, is fit to stand trial

Canadian government threatens to retaliate if Trump imposes auto tariffs

U.S president had suggested that auto imports pose a national security risk to the U.S.

Most Read