Statue a lo­cal is­sue: Min­is­ter

Pro­test­ers want ed­ward Corn­wal­lis statue re­moved from hal­i­fax park

North Bay Nugget - - NATIONAL NEWS - MICHAEL TUTTON

WOLFVILLE, N.s. — Fed­eral Jus­tice Min­is­ter Jody Wil­sonray­bould said thurs­day she de­fers to the views of lo­cal Mi’kmaq lead­ers on whether a statue of hal­i­fax’s con­tro­ver­sial founder should be moved from a city park.

the Lib­eral cabi­net min­is­ter was in Wolfville, N.s., thurs­day to at­tend a meet­ing with Nova sco­tia chiefs and MPs to dis­cuss in­creased self gov­ern­ment for Mi’kmaq com­mu­ni­ties in the province.

Last month pro­test­ers pledged to re­move a bronze mon­u­ment to ed­ward Corn­wal­lis in a hal­i­fax park, but in­stead the city tem­po­rar­ily cov­ered it in a tarp.

Corn­wal­lis, as gov­er­nor of Nova sco­tia, founded hal­i­fax in 1749 and soon af­ter is­sued a bounty on Mi’kmaq scalps in re­sponse to an at­tack on colonists.

some mem­bers of the Mi’kmaq com­mu­nity have called for the re­moval of trib­utes to Corn­wal­lis, call­ing his ac­tions a form of geno­cide.

Wil­son-ray­bould, who is abo­rig­i­nal, says the re­gional lead­er­ship of the as­sem­bly of First Na­tions and “the rest of the com­mu­nity and el­ders” will de­ter­mine what ac­tions to take to en­hance rec­on­cil­i­a­tion be­tween First Na­tions and non-abo­rig­i­nal res­i­dents in Nova sco­tia.

“i think un­der the lead­er­ship of re­gional chief (Mor­ley) goo­goo and the rest of the com­mu­nity and el­ders they will de­ter­mine what best to hap­pen with the Corn­wal­lis statue in terms of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion,” she said be­fore en­ter­ing the meet­ing.

goo­goo told re­porters it’s not some­thing that he in­tended to dis­cuss at the gath­er­ing.

he said he un­der­stands the dif­fi­cul­ties faced by hal­i­fax Mayor Michael sav­age, as the lo­cal politi­cian pro­ceeds through a process of coun­cil meet­ings and hear­ings to de­ter­mine the fate of the mon­u­ment.

“i re­spect the mayor’s chal­lenges,” said the chief. “he has to go through com­mit­tees, make recommendations. the Corn­wal­lis statue, Corn­wal­lis street, all of th­ese things have to be re­named, you can’t just take the stat­ues down and noth­ing is there.”

he said there are di­verse views among the Mi’kmaq on how the is­sue should be han­dled, but there is con­sen­sus that fig­ures like Corn­wal­lis should no longer hon­oured.

“if Mi’kmaq peo­ple are of­fended by it, put it (the statue) some­where where the story can be told, but don’t hon­our and wor­ship it in a park like this.”

Perry Bel­le­garde, the na­tional chief of the as­sem­bly of First Na­tions, was also at the meet­ing, which he said was fo­cused on mak­ing progress to­wards shift­ing away from the in­dian act and to­wards self gov­ern­ment.

Bel­le­garde said is­sues like the statue are part of a wider na­tional trend, as indige­nous peo­ples ask other Cana­di­ans to re-ex­am­ine their his­tory.

“i think there’s a move­ment across Canada for rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and there’s a big move­ment to start telling his­tory from First Na­tions per­spec­tives,” he said.

he noted the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s an­nounce­ment in June that it is re­nam­ing the Langevin build­ing in ot­tawa to the of­fice of the Prime Min­is­ter and Privy Coun­cil.

Prime Min­is­ter Justin trudeau has said hav­ing his of­fice in a build­ing named for sir hec­tor-Louis Langevin — a fig­ure as­so­ci­ated with the res­i­den­tial school sys­tem — clashed with the gov­ern­ment’s vi­sion.

“if you want to move down that road and path called rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, it’s very im­por­tant that you look at all th­ese things from a First Na­tions per­spec­tive and sup­port those changes that will bring about that rec­on­cil­i­a­tion,” said Bel­le­garde.

“it’s all part of the process . ... i think that move­ment should be em­braced.”

For­mer prime min­is­ter Paul Martin, in hal­i­fax thurs­day to re­ceive an award, also said he would leave the Corn­wal­lis is­sue to lo­cal lead­ers.

“i think we have to be truth­ful about our his­tory. there were some ter­ri­ble things done to indige­nous Cana­di­ans, and if we’re go­ing to have rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, that has be rec­og­nized,” he said. “rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, i be­lieve, means rec­og­niz­ing the er­rors of the past.”

AN­DREW VAUGHAN/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Jus­tice Min­is­ter Jody Wil­son-Ray­boud is flanked by Mi’kmaq Grand Chief Ben Syl­li­boy, left, and Mor­ley Goo­goo, re­gional chief for Nova Sco­tia and New­found­land, in Wolfville, N.S. on Thurs­day.

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