Halifax votes to temporarily remove statue
Halifax council has voted to immediately remove a statue of Edward Cornwallis from a downtown park amid growing calls across the country to end the reverence of colonial figures as part of reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.
After just over an hour of debate, it took less than 10 seconds for council to vote 12-4 to temporarily place the bronze figure of Halifax’s contentious military founder in storage until a decision is made on its long-term fate.
“The Cornwallis statue has become a powerful symbol,” Mayor Mike Savage told council on Tuesday. “I believe its continued presence on a pedestal in the middle of a city park is an impediment to sustained progress and forging productive, respectful and lasting relationships with the Mi’kmaq in the spirit of truth and reconciliation.”
Morley Googoo, regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said the decision to take down the statue is a “huge opportunity for the city.”
“Other municipalities across the country are dealing with the same very question about how to have a new relationship with Indigenous Peoples,” he told reporters following council’s decision. “Being here today and witnessing how we talked about it and the progress we’ve made in Halifax, I’m very proud to be here.”
The decision to topple the bronze statue of the city’s founder comes as efforts to scrub colonial names and symbols from public spaces intensify.
Montreal struck the name of British general Jeffery Amherst — a soldier who reportedly wanted to exterminate native inhabitants — from a city street last fall.
A teacher’s group in Ontario voted last summer to rename schools and buildings named after Sir John A. Macdonald, prime minister when the federal government approved the first residential schools in Canada, while a school in Saskatchewan named after a man who recommended residential schools for Indigenous youth is considering a name change.
The United States, meanwhile, is grappling with what to do with Confederate monuments, which to some symbolize white supremacy.