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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Learning from the Swollen Rivers of the Past

This post originally appeared on ActiveHistory.ca

I may be cursed. Everywhere I move flooding seems to follow. Last fall, my family and I moved to White River Junction, Vermont. On an apartment hunt, my father and I arrived in the Green Mountain State immediately following Hurricane Irene. Pulling into Rutland we were told that there were no roads open that crossed the state east to west. Every road had been washed out. Indeed, the devastation Irene caused was still a lead news story in the area when we left at the beginning of August, a year later. We arrived in Nova Scotia to some dry weather, but here too we’ve seen one of the wettest September’s on record. One of these weather systems, associated with Tropical Storm Leslie, broke through a number of dykes around Truro, bringing significant flooding to Nova Scotia’s “Hub Town.”

There are a lot of differences between these two “weather events,” not the least of which was their scale and damage. What links them together, though, is that in both cases similar flooding had taken place in the past. Although these events are tragedies, much of the damage was predictable, though not always avoidable. Continue reading “Learning from the Swollen Rivers of the Past”