Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS Contractors remove the statue of Edward Cornwallis, a controversial historical figure, in a city park in Halifax Wednesday. Cornwallis, the military officer who founded Halifax in 1749, offered a cash bounty to anyone who killed a Mi’kmaq person.

Halifax removes contentious statue of port city’s founder, Edward Cornwallis

HALIFAX — Isaiah Bernard always avoided driving by a statue of Halifax’s controversial military founder. For him, it was an obtrusive reminder of Edward Cornwallis’s bloody and barbaric extermination campaign against his Mi’kmaq ancestors.

Bernard wore a wide smile Wednesday as the bronze figure of Cornwallis was removed from a downtown park, one day after Halifax councillors decided it should be taken down at least temporarily.

“I feel like my ancestors can finally rest,” Bernard, from Nova Scotia’s Potlotek First Nation, said as crews prepared to move the statue.

“It’s a great day to be Canadian and First Nation.”

Scaffolding was set up around the monument Wednesday morning, and yellow straps were wrapped around the body of the Cornwallis statue — which faced towards the mouth of Halifax Harbour since it was erected more than 85 years ago.

An eagle flew overhead in a cloudless, late afternoon sky as the figure was lifted off its pedestal with a crane, then placed on its back on a flatbed truck.

The removal was met with cheers from a few dozen people, who had gathered to watch what many felt was a historic moment.

“I feel pretty good right now, pretty happy. A lot of us, we’ve been waiting a long time for this — since longer than I’ve been alive,” Mi’kmaq activist Rebecca Moore said as she watched workers make preparations for removal.

“What it means to me is that it’s really showing that violence against Indigenous people and Indigenous women is not OK … and that we won’t stand for it. That’s what it symbolizes to me.”

Council voted 12-4 on Tuesday to temporarily place the bronze figure in storage until a decision can be made on its long-term fate.

Cornwallis is a disputed character, seen by some as a brave leader who founded Halifax, but by others as the impetus of the 1749 scalping proclamation against Mi’kmaq inhabitants.

Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq chiefs had called Friday for the statue to be taken down immediately, because a panel appointed in October to study how the city commemorates Cornwallis had not even met yet.

A staff report to council highlighted rising tensions around the statue, citing a planned protest Sunday that it said could result in clashes between protesters, damage to the statue and personal injury.

Leo Deveau, director of the Halifax Military Heritage Preservation Society, said he felt that “Cornwallis has become a lightning rod for a number of things, which we think is unfair.

“It’s not just about Cornwallis. He came with 2,500-plus people, settlers, and many of whose names exist in the city today. That’s what has drawn me into this for a long time — the stories of those settlers,” he said over the sound of a saw cutting into the base of the statue.

Just Posted

Fog advisory in place for Central Alberta

Near-zero visibility possible

Art Battle Red Deer to support Women of Excellence Awards

Art Battle Red Deer will be April 6 at the Radisson Hotel

Eliminating racial discrimination events in Red Deer this week

Two upcoming events aim to inspire change and eliminate racial discrimination in… Continue reading

Outfitter facing Wildlife Act charges

It is alleged archery-only hunting licences used out of season

Sunnybrook pies in demand

Just in time for Easter

WATCH: Red Deerians can have a say about crime fighting

Municipality will poll citizens about policing priorities

Austin bombing suspect blows himself up as SWAT moves in

ROUND ROCK, Texas — The suspect in the deadly bombings that terrorized… Continue reading

Liberal firearms bill attacked by both gun owners and shooting victims

OTTAWA — The federal government tabled a proposed new bill Tuesday to… Continue reading

No opting out: Canadians to get emergency alerts on their phones soon

TORONTO — Canada’s wireless providers are preparing for a looming update to… Continue reading

Union leader says Alberta EMS system ‘broken’, not enough paramedics, ambulances

CALGARY — A union leader says government data shows Alberta does not… Continue reading

21-year-old charged with drug trafficking in Rocky Mountain House

RCMP seized drugs after conducting a traffic stop and charged a 21-year-old… Continue reading

Liberal bill would tighten controls on sale, licensing of firearms

OTTAWA — Gun retailers would be required to keep records of firearms… Continue reading

Alberta factoring in Trans Mountain pipeline in budget forecasts

EDMONTON — Finance Minister Joe Ceci says Alberta will rely on anticipated… Continue reading

Pooches and pickup truck stolen in Edmonton found in Rimbey

Two old English bulldogs named Rocky and Jersey who were in a… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month