K’jipuktuk to Halifax and back: Decolonization in the Council Chamber

This post was originally published on ActiveHistory.ca

For nearly nine decades visitors to Halifax, arriving by boat or train, were welcomed to the city by Edward Cornwallis. Encased in bronze, Cornwallis stood tall, his stern face peering towards travelers pouring out from the city’s main train station and the famed Pier 21, site of first arrival to Canada for over 1.5 million immigrants. In 2018, Cornwallis was removed from his prominent perch at the south end of Barrington Street. Yesterday evening, Halifax Regional Council solidified that decision, voting to accept a report from an expert task force on the Commemoration of Edward Cornwallis and Commemoration of Indigenous History.

The Edward Cornwallis statue, in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia, on July 15, 2017. (Ben MacLeod, Wikimedia Commons)

From a global perspective, the timing of the Halifax report could not be better. Released just six weeks after protesters in Bristol toppled a statue of Edward Colston, a prominent philanthropist whose wealth was built upon the human trafficking of enslavement of Africans, the issue of public commemoration – specifically of individuals involved in imperial and corporate systems of enslavement and oppression – remains front and centre around the world.

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