Thursday, May 12, 2016
Why Nova Scotia Should Stop Honouring a War Criminal
For eighty-five years the statue of Lieutenant General Edward Cornwallis has loomed over a park in Halifax.
To honour him for being the first governor of Nova Scotia, and the founder of Halifax.
In recent years native groups have tried to have the statue taken down and his name removed from other parks, streets and buildings in Nova Scotia.
For his decision in 1749 to issue a bounty for the scalps of Mi’kmaq men, women and children.
But sadly I see that initiative has gone nowhere.
The name Edward Cornwallis will remain on municipal properties in Halifax. A motion was put forward at Tuesday’s council session to update municipal markers bearing the name of Nova Scotia’s first governor Edward Cornwallis, including a park, statue and a street with his namesake.
Halifax Regional Council narrowly defeated a motion 8-7 requesting a staff report on a public engagement process on the issue.
And I couldn't be more disappointed and disgusted, for two good reasons.
Firstly, because I can't believe that in a country that is trying to create a new relationship with its First Nations, we would honour a man who would pay people to bring him the scalps of murdered men, women, and children.
And secondly, because of what he did in the aftermath of the bloody Battle of Culloden in 1746, which took place on this moor in the Scottish highlands not far from my family home.
Where he also acted like a beast.
Cornwallis played an important role in suppressing the Jacobite rising of 1745. He fought for the victorious British soldiers at the Battle of Culloden and then led a regiment of 320 men north for the Pacification of the Scottish Highlands.
The Duke of Cumberland ordered him to "plunder, burn and destroy through all the west part of Invernesshire called Lochaber." Cumberland added: "You have positive orders to bring no more prisoners to the camp."
Cornwallis's campaign was later described as one of unrestrained violence. Cornwallis ordered his men to chase off livestock, destroy crops and food stores. Cornwallis's soldiers used rape and mass murder to intimidate Jacobites from further rebellion
So he was already a war criminal before he arrived in Canada.
And I can't understand how anyone could honour a man like that, or accept the arguments of those who claim we shouldn't demolish that statue, or consign it to a warehouse or a museum, because it's part of "Canadian history."
When Cornwallis was not a Canadian, he was just a swaggering colonizer who did what he did for the glory of the British empire, is buried in England the only country he loved.
And we can do better by replacing that statue with a monument to the Mi'kmaq and the ordinary settlers who really built that city and that province.
In the highlands they don't forget what that butcher did...
And neither should Canadians...
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