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Council votes to remove Cornwallis statue immediately

12-4 vote comes after Mi’kmaq chiefs leave advisory panel  

3 min read
caption The statue of Edward Cornwallis is located at the Cornwallis Square. 
caption Edward Cornwallis was a Nova Scotia governor known for issuing a bounty on Mi’kmaq scalps.

The Cornwallis statue will be removed from Cornwallis Park and put into temporary storage, following a vote from Halifax regional council.

On Tuesday, council passed the removal motion, 12-4, but no date was set.

The motion was added to the agenda at the last minute. It follows Friday’s statement from Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs who called for the statue to come down. Edward Cornwallis, the founder of Halifax, was responsible for issuing a bounty on the scalps of Mi’kmaq people.

Coun. Lisa Blackburn told the council the statue had become “a flashpoint of emotion.”

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“Statues are not how we record history. Books and museums are for that. Statues are how we glorify history,” she said. “Reconciliation begins with reconcili-action and we have the ability to do that today.”

caption Mayor Mike Savage shakes hands with Mi’kmaw activist Rebecca Moore after council.

Mayor Mike Savage said the decision to remove the statue was difficult, but he was pleased with the outcome.

“We all are a product of our history, but we do not have to be a prisoner of it,” he said during the council meeting.

He said this decision “allows us to have the conversation we need to have on true reconciliation.”

“The whole process of truth and reconciliation in my view is about evolving,” he told reporters after the meeting was over.  

Mi’kmaq Chief Morley Googoo commended council for its decision and said it establishes a new relationship with the Mi’kmaq.

“There’s a new way of business and relationships that we have to make,” he told reporters.

caption Mi’kmaq Chief Morley Googoo receives a hug after the motion to remove the Cornwallis statue was passed.

Last Friday, the chiefs also said they wouldn’t take part in a municipal advisory panel that was supposed to decide the statue’s future. They said the Halifax Regional Municipality was not moving fast enough with the process.

The advisory panel committee was supposed to include four members appointed by council and four by the Assembly.

Coun. Matt Whitman said he would not support the motion because he did not agree with the Assembly “breaking the agreement.”

“By removing the statue we’re not achieving what needs to be achieved. We are ending a dialogue, not starting a dialogue,” he said.

Regional council also called on the mayor to re-engage the Assembly in the panel advisory committee.

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