Cornwallis couldn’t stay as is – let’s now find a better way to commemorate Halifax’s history

Today’s decision by Halifax Regional Council to remove the Cornwallis statue is certainly generating a lot of discussion from those supporting it and those against it. I was looking forward to a thoughtful, evidence-based recommendation from the committee struck by council to decide on an appropriate way to reconcile the views of those who felt the statue should be taken down versus those who felt it should remain. The decision by the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs to withdraw from this process left the Mayor and Council in the position where they needed to be decisive.

To leave the Cornwallis statue in place without a process to engage our Indigenous people on a new way to commemorate the history of Halifax that reflects all perspectives would have invited more conflict, more hurt and potentially violence. How would this have helped the path of reconciliation set out by the Mayor and Council in the Statement of Reconciliation adopted unanimously on December 8, 2015?

With the statue now being taken down, I hope the municipality will be able to re-establish a collaborative forum with the Mi’kmaq to identify a better, more respectful way to recognize the role of Cornwallis in establishing Halifax. This should include the right location for the statue and the context in which it is presented.