STATUE COV­ERED

Protesters watch as a tarp cov­ers hated statue

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE -

Protesters who pledged to re­move a statue of Hal­i­fax’s con­tro­ver­sial founder Satur­day say they came away vic­to­ri­ous af­ter the mon­u­ment to Ed­ward Corn­wal­lis was cov­ered in a tarp.

Protesters who pledged to re­move a statue of Hal­i­fax’s con­tro­ver­sial founder Satur­day say they came away vic­to­ri­ous af­ter the mon­u­ment to Ed­ward Corn­wal­lis was cov­ered in a tarp.

More than 100 peo­ple looked up at a mu­nic­i­pal worker, hoisted by a crane in a city­owned truck, as he draped a black tarp over the bronze statue at the cen­tre of Hal­i­fax’s Corn­wal­lis Park.

A Face­book event called “Re­mov­ing Corn­wal­lis” in­vited protesters to “peace­fully re­move” the statue, but or­ga­niz­ers didn’t ini­tially say how they planned to make that hap­pen.

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

Or­ga­nizer El­iz­a­beth Mar­shall said she wanted to see the statue top­pled, but at the ad­vice of Indige­nous el­ders, they de­cided to sym­bol­i­cally bury Corn­wal­lis with a black tarp.

“(The el­ders) didn’t say take him down in vi­o­lence. They said we want him taken down in our way,” Mar­shall told the crowd. “We want to take him down in love. We want to coun­ter­act their ha­tred.”

Mayor Mike Sav­age - who had voiced con­cerns about “vi­o­lent ac­tion” at the protest ear­lier in the week - linked hands with protesters as they formed two con­cen­tric cir­cles and danced around the shrouded mon­u­ment to the beat of a drum.

Sav­age spoke out against the re­moval plan Tues­day, not­ing that re­mov­ing the statue by force is not con­doned by the Nova Sco­tia Assem­bly of Mi’kmaq Chiefs.

Maryanne Junta, a 16-yearold mem­ber of Eskasoni First Na­tion, said the mayor’s mis­char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of the event could have in­vited vi­o­lence against protesters.

“(Mayor) Sav­age, shame on you for pub­licly mak­ing false ac­cu­sa­tions against us in the me­dia, claim­ing that we are dan­ger­ous when our in­ten­tions were ad­dressed to be peace­ful,” Junta said in a speech. “But, I un­der­stand that you are here. I ap­pre­ci­ate you mak­ing your pres­ence and keep­ing the peace as we promised.”

Sav­age told re­porters that he never doubted or­ga­niz­ers’ in­ten­tions, but he was con­cerned about so­cial me­dia posts sug­gest­ing the event could turn vi­o­lent.

On Canada Day, a group of off-duty Cana­dian mil­i­tary men dis­rupted a spir­i­tual event at the statue mark­ing the suf­fer­ing of Indige­nous Peo­ples.

The men, who are now fac­ing a mil­i­tary in­ves­ti­ga­tion and pos­si­ble ex­pul­sion from the Forces, said they were mem­bers of the Proud Boys, a self-de­clared group of “Western Chau­vin­ists” who say they are tired of apol­o­giz­ing for “cre­at­ing the mod­ern world.”

The mayor said he worked with or­ga­niz­ers to cover the mon­u­ment with­out en­dan­ger­ing protesters or the statue.

While a few peo­ple showed up at Satur­day’s protest to voice their dis­sent, in­clud­ing a man who tried to shout over a cer­e­mony while car­ry­ing the Union Jack, the skir­mishes were mostly con­fined to the edges and swiftly dealt with by po­lice mon­i­tor­ing the event.

CP PHOTO

A woman hugs a man to keep him from a con­fronta­tion be­tween Indige­nous ac­tivists and a man protest­ing against the demon­stra­tion to cover the statue of Ed­ward Corn­wal­lis in Corn­wal­lis Park in Hal­i­fax on Satur­day. Protesters who pledged to re­move a statue of Hal­i­fax’s con­tro­ver­sial founder Satur­day say they came away vic­to­ri­ous af­ter the mon­u­ment to Ed­ward Corn­wal­lis was cov­ered in a tarp.

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