Mi’kmaq elder helps unveil new name for Halifax park after three decades of advocacy – Halifax
A Mi’kmaq elder and scholar helped unveil a new park name on Monday after more than 30 years of fighting for change.
Former Cornwallis Park – named after Edward Cornwallis, known for putting a price on Mi’kmaw scalps in 1749 while he was Governor of Nova Scotia – is now known as the Peace and Friendship Park, in reference to Peace and Friendship Treaties between the Mi’kmaq and the British Crown.
In the late 1980s, Mi’kmaq Elder Dr. Dan Paul began his quest to have the public commemoration of a colonial military leader responsible for violent acts of oppression against the Mi’kmaq removed from the municipal property.
Former Cornwallis Park officially renamed Peace and Friendship Park
After more than three decades of advocacy, he joined with other Mi’kmaq community leaders to unveil “an achievement for all communities”.
He said he was born in 1938, at a time when he could not vote in elections. According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, Aboriginal groups were not granted the right to vote until March 1960.
“We were wards of the state. We had no rights. We couldn’t even buy a bottle of beer and drink it. That tells you something about how far we’ve come in the past two years. But we still have a lot of work to do and I hope we will, ”said Paul.
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In a speech, Paul said he had always believed that the statue would end up being brought down by the “verifiable historical knowledge” of the citizens.
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“I believe the direction of the statue and the name of the park were made by people who had no knowledge of the barbarism committed by Cornwallis during his career and truly believed they were honoring a hero,” said Paul.
Mayor Mike Savage said growing up the history he was taught in school did not accurately reflect the history of the Mi’kmaw people.
He said it took books like the one Paul wrote to help him recognize that the story depends a lot on who wrote it.
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“I know some people were concerned that we were turning our backs on the kind of European heritage, the British heritage. I just don’t think that’s true, ”Savage said.
“The streets I grew up on all had English names, so I think it’s about time we recognized more and more that Mi’kmaq is our story. It’s a shared story and we can do it together, ”he added.
Paul said the park’s name change is something people of all ethnicities can be comfortable with.
“What could be better than for all of us to live in harmony and to accept each other in peace and friendship? Now we have a park that we can all enjoy… Good things happen when people get to know each other, ”said Paul.
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However, there is still work to be done. Paul said the next step the province and its cities must take is to rename the Cornwallis River to its original name Mikmaw.
He said there are also three cities in Nova Scotia, including Lunenburg, Kentville and New Minas, which have a Cornwallis Street, which he hopes will be changed.
Halifax has one, but it is in the process of being renamed.
Council agreed to amend Administrative Order 29, regarding civic addressing, to allow council to rename streets – such as Cornwallis Street – and “consider other similar name change requests in the future”.
The City plans to hold public consultations to rename this street.
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