• Cornwallis Park may 2014

    Statement on Cornwallis Park and Cornwallis Statue

    Kwe’ my friends. I am Councillor Waye Mason.

    I wish to begin by acknowledging that Halifax Regional Municipality is on Eskikewa’kik territory in Mi’kma’ki. The municipality and all the people here are beneficiaries of the peace and friendship treaties with the Mi’kmaq. I extend to the Mi’kmaw people my respect and desire to build stronger relationships in the spirit and intent of these treaties.

    The discussion leading up to today’s public open house about rejuvenating Cornwallis Park shows that park name and the statue of Edward Cornwallis continues to be an important issue that needs to be acknowledged, discussed and acted on.

    The emailed comments, phone calls and the conversation on social media have been thoughtful and respectful. It says good things about Halifax that we can have a mature and considerate discussion about an important and potentially divisive issue while continuing to listen and be respectful of other’s opinions.

    To put it in planning speak “What do we do as a society with commemorative landscapes that are unrepresentative of present values?” Possible responses could include renaming the park, keeping the statue with appropriate new context, adding new artwork to the park to tell a contemporary story of our view of history, or removing the statue and replacing it with something that does the same.

    This is not simply a matter of renaming the park and removing the statue. We as a community may not be best served by erasing all mention of Cornwallis from the park.

    As one person wrote on Facebook “Rather than removing [the statue], let’s invite proposals for a contemporary response and historical corrective to the established narrative. Removing it is a one-time act that does not continue to teach people. A permanent response would continue to generate awareness over time.”

    All of these options need to be carefully considered and discussed.

    As Councillor I commit to meeting with representatives of the Mi’kmaq community, the Acadian community, other concerned groups and concerned citizens to help determine possible courses of action that in turn will lead to a wide-ranging public discussion and ultimately action. These will not be easy discussions, but hard talk about tough issues cannot fail to make our community a stronger, better place.

    Let’s talk about tonight. Our open house will include a brief opportunity for participants to identify what brought them here, and to allow these concerns to be recognized and recorded.

    I am confident that people will be respectful of the other issues that are bringing us together tonight and will participate in the full discussion about all the plans and opportunities this public space represents.

    wela’lioq (wel-all-ee-oh) and thank you all for coming out today to help make our community a better place.

     

     

  • Edward_Cornhollis

    Off with his head!

  • son of Cornwallis

    with all due respect to folks of aboriginal descent Edward Cornwallis deserves his statue and the park. its about time aboriginal peoples get over the fact europeans came, saw, and conqured. was it right, arguably no, but its history. for those of european decent we have every right to remember our founders such as General Cornwallis. Long live the memory of General Edward Cornwallis!…-and long may Cornwallis Park thrive.

    • http://halifaxpolitics.ca Waye Mason

      I am of European decent and I don’t think that Edward Cornwallis represents the ethical standards or ideals of my ancestors, either contemporarily or even, and this is important, in that time. And undistinguished military career, a history of exceeding orders and ignoring budgets does not a great man make. This is not about erasing colonial era history, far from it, but it is about updating the context and looking that history through a modern, more honest lens.

      • A Grant

        Which professional historians might call anachronism. That’s not saying 1930s hero worship was any less anachronistic–but judging history by contemporary standards is always bad practice. For instance, is it fair to use the word ‘genocide’, when the term wasn’t invented until 1944?

        • pcedward

          This is somewhat of an oversimplification. Who says judging history by contemporary standards is bad practice? You? Well, with all due respect…who are you? If you do not judge history on present social standards (and in this case address a growing concern among citizens) you’re simply ignoring social progress. If you do not view history through a lens of whats been learned, frankly, your opinion is no more valid than a historian or scientist of those times. The earth is not still thought to be flat, shall that history be viewed without the lessons of contemporary society? Of course not, because it is simply wrong. In this case, people have learned of the violent past of a military general that’s been held in high esteem that continues to represent the colonial suppression of certain Canadians. Also, who cares what word is used? Populicide means the same thing as genocide and it dates to the 1700’s. Does it matter what synonyms are used? Of course not, its an expression on an ancient idea of colonialism. We are clearly trying to engage in discussions that introduces an evolved, less xenophobic and more compassionate society. Please, stop pulling us back to the cave.

          • Guest

            Waye the French and Aboriginals were scalping people too, it was the Father_Le_Loutre’s_War, everybody was killing everybody. Did you ever read about the War? “On September 30, 1749, about forty Mi’kmaq attacked six men, who were under the command of Major Gilman, who were in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia cutting trees near a saw mill. Four of them were killed on the spot, one was taken prisoner and one escaped. Two of the men were scalped and the heads of the others were cut off. Major Ezekiel Gilman and others in his party escaped and gave the alarm. A detachment of rangers was sent after the raiding party and cut off the heads of two Mi’kmaq and scalped one. This raid was the first of eight against Dartmouth during the war.”

            So Waye you are promoting pure historical revisionism.

          • Eric McLeod

            “Who says judging history by contemporary standards is bad practice?” Historians.

          • Eric McLeod

            “In this case, people have learned of the violent past of a military general that’s been held in high esteem that continues to represent the colonial suppression of certain Canadians. ” Did the French and Aboriginals have violent military leaders in the 1700s?

          • A Grant

            First, I am a citizen and member of the community, which gives me every right to offer my opinion. Second, I know a thing or two about history. If you’re the sort that’s impressed by academic credentials, my undergrad degree just happens to be in History and Political Science, with First Class Honours.

            Now, as for the rest. You apparently don’t know that there is a difference between history (what happened) and historiography (the interpretation of why it happened). Saying “people used to think the Earth was flat–they must have been dumb” is useless. As historians, we want to know WHY they thought it was flat. You might be surprised to learn that the idea of historical progress is highly debatable. The notion is often called “Whig history”, and it’s generally considered the prime example of the logical fallacy of presentism. That’s when someone inserts present day perspectives and ideas into the past. A bit like using the word “genocide”, which, since WW2, has a very specific character.

            In truth, what you are demanding is that history be understood YOUR WAY. That it advance your political and social agenda. For the record, that’s not history. That’s indoctrination.

  • A Grant

    Hmm, I wonder to what extent the name “Halifax” can be separated from the man who named it? A project to “correct the historical narrative” wrongly assumes that there is a correct version of history, and rarely ends with one action. I mean, if Halifax is on Eskikewa’kik territory in Mi’kma’ki, shouldn’t it be called K’jipuktuk?

  • Eric McLeod

    Waye the French and Aboriginals were slaughtering people too, it’s called the Father_Le_Loutre’s_War. Did you even bother to read about the War? “On September 30, 1749, about forty Mi’kmaq attacked six men, who were under the command of Major Gilman, who were in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia cutting trees near a saw mill. Four of them were killed on the spot, one was taken prisoner and one escaped. Two of the men were scalped and the heads of the others were cut off. Major Ezekiel Gilman and others in his party escaped and gave the alarm. A detachment of rangers was sent after the raiding party and cut off the heads of two Mi’kmaq and scalped one. This raid was the first of eight against Dartmouth during the war.”

  • Eric McLeod

    There were four raids on Halifax during the war. The first raid happened in October 1750, while in the woods on peninsular Halifax, Mi’kmaq scalped two British people and took six prisoner: Cornwallis’ gardener, his son, and Captain William Clapham’s book keeper were tortured and scalped.

  • Eric McLeod

    Waye, Cornwallis was not doing anything that every other side in the Father Le Loutre’s War was doing.