2016: The statue of Edward Cornwallis in downtown Halifax had become the target of vandals in recent years as the calls grew from Indigenous groups for its removal. PHOTO: Paul Poirier-CBC

Removing Cornwallis- facts vs modern social justice agenda

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Recently the bronze statue of Edward Cornwallis was removed from a park in Halifax. It is the city he founded in 1749.

A military officer, his mission was to establish a strong British presence on the east coast of mainland Nova Scotia at Chebuctou (later named Halifax) to counter the French colony nearby on Ile Royale (present day Cape Breton). This was to take place during an uneasy peace between the two European nations.

The Nova Scotia region was also the traditional land of the Mi’kmaq aboriginals.

Violence erupted between the two, and in recent years the M’ikmaq of the region have been demanding the statue be removed claiming he tried to wipe out the Mi’kmaq and was guilty of genocide.  However, there’s a lot more to the story, and various myths have crept into the narrative against Cornwallis.

Leo J Deveau is an author, a member of the Royal Society of Nova Scotia History, and a board member of the Halifax Military Heritage Preservation Society

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The Mi’kmaq claims against Cornwallis centre on a Bounty proclamation, in which payment for the scalps of Mi’kmaq warriors was one option, or bringing them in as prisoners. This proclamation did not include scalps of women or children as is often promoted by pressure groups.

Extensive research by historians including the HMHPS with their research papers, shows that there were bloody acts on all sides before, during, and after Cornwallis and also that an accusation of genocide against Cornwallis is not correct.

Leo J Deveau, author, and board member HMHPS

Deveau points out that the Mi’kmaq population had been, and continued to be, decimated by disease brought by a French fleet three years prior to Cornwallis’ arrival.

Portrait of Edward Cornwallis, by Joshua Reynolds ; (Art Gallery of Nova Scotia- wikimedia)

Also the Mi’kmaq for their part had no qualms about scalping British men women and children and had already been receiving payment from the French, which continued in Cornwallis time from a French priest and instigator named Abbot Le Loutre. who seems to have also escaped serious historical blame for bloodthirsty instigation. Records also indicate French payment for British scalps from Nova Scotia were also made to Mi’kmaq warriors at Port-le-Joie (present day Fort Amherst near Charlottetown, PEI).

Canada Post issued a stamp in 1949 commemorating the 200th anniversary of the founding of the city. IMAGE Postal history corner

Deveau and others say that Halifax city councillors acted too hastily in removing the statue before discussing and learning the actual historical facts.

City workers prepare to dismantle and remove the statue of Cornwallis in late January. PHOTO Leo J Deveau

Indeed, he would like all sides to learn historical fact prior to forming opinions, and making judgements and decisions, versus the too hasty acceptance of various myths and distortions promoted by pressure groups in an atmosphere of “blame and shame”.

Mi’kmaq celebrate the removal of the statue in February PHOTO E McMillan-twitter

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3 comments on “Removing Cornwallis- facts vs modern social justice agenda
  1. Avatar Rodrigo Vega-Gamarra y Cuervo says:

    I don´t understand why the Halifax´s citizen let that some resentful people destroy the statue of Edward Cornwallis, fouunder of the city. Halifax can´t tolerate such an outrage. Let´s not lose any of the goodness.

    If the goverment permit those abuses, tomorrow the chaos will be in this beatiful city. The vandals are few people now, but in the fature, when they see that there is not an autority, they wiil be a lot more.

    The anarchists did that act against the wishes of the most decent people of the town. It was an act against the city. It was an act against the Halifax´s true history. There was no good faith. The pressure group only wants to be the center of attention: They loves publicity, and they change history.

    Fortunately, the historians Leo J. Deveau axplained it all: everything will be fine.

    It´s very neccesary, for the Halifax´s history, restore the monument in him old place, in the middle on the main square. It´s more important keep up the tradition alive.

    It´s very important to know the true history, becouse all individual need to learn something of their own past.

    The Halifax´s people will be very grateful if the Town Council offer an apology to cotizenship.

  2. Avatar Ray Blakeney says:

    Thank you for your interview with Mr. Deveau. I agree that to this point it has been a one sided argument. The removal of the statue is one of revenge and not reconciliation. I am ashamed of HRM City Council. They certainly do not represent the majority of taxpayers here.

    • Avatar jim says:

      Not only was it ok to murder the rightful owners of Canada, but you were encouraged to do so. No decent human would defend this turd. The British do have a knack for feeling superior. They are anything but!