The City of Halifax, Nova Scotia covered up a statue of its founder, General Edward Cornwallis, Saturday in response to demands by protesters who want the monument removed. With only 150 protesters on-scene, city crews draped a black cloth over the statue as a “sign of good faith” that it will eventually be removed.
The protesters object to commemorating Cornwallis, a key figure in the British response to the American Revolution, who founded Halifax in 1749. They say he was a progenitor of “genocide” because he waged war against the Mi’kmaq tribe that lived in what is now Nova Scotia.
Halifax Mayor Mike Savage, in a statement on the the city’s website, made every effort to appease the protesters.
“It is true that many Mi’kmaq people, Indigenous people, and others of all backgrounds disagree with the continued presence of Edward Cornwallis on a pedestal in a public park. I understand this position and am committed to a resolution of this situation.”
Savage says he is looking for an “appropriate way forward for what has become a polarizing issue in this community….Removal of the statue and the renaming of the park, must be among the considerations for the panel as well as for Council.”
The mayor pleaded with the demonstrators for some kind of resolution that might at least recognize the British heritage of Halifax. “Is there a way to tell our whole shared history in this park? Can a park be a place where we reconcile our past with a new way forward in the spirit of reconciliation?” he asked.
Saturday’s protest seemed to settle the argument in favor of the “indigenous peoples” who marched around the park, shouting and pounding native drums. When the city workers arrived to cover the Cornwallis statue with a black veil, they cheered and raised their fists in the air.
The mayor said the veil was a temporary measure. After the protest was over, the black veil had been replaced by an orange tarp, but it is not clear whether it was replaced by the city or native supporters.
“This had to be one of the most joyous days I’ve experienced in a long, long time,” one of the protesters told CBC News. “I never anticipated we would start a new relationship with the settler peoples because we’ve always been excluded from everything.”