Sunday, 23 July 2017

In early May this year Mi’kmaq leader Keptin Sark returned the Order of PEI that he had been awarded to the provincial legislature. He wants the name of Jeffrey Amherst – a notorious British General responsible for distributing blankets infected with smallpox amongst the Mi’kmaq and other Indigenous peoples in the 18th Century – removed from the historic site at Port-la-Joye at Rocky Point, across the harbour from Charlottetown. Neither the provincial nor the federal Liberals are listening.

A long interview with Robert Wright, one of the African Nova Scotians who earlier this year demanded that the practice of carding be suspended. We talked with Wright about why carding generates such anger among Black Nova Scotians, the over surveillance of Black communities by police, the white indifference to the issue, how anger at police better be directed at politicians, and why carding is ineffective. More than anything we talked about racism.

Sadie Beaton, Community Conservation Research Coordinator at the Ecology Action Centre, asks Mayor Mike Savage that no more precious time be wasted in getting rid of the Cornwallis statue. “Reconciliation can only begin when settlers and their governments and institutions truthfully reckon with the sometimes painful history of these lands. This history has allowed settlers to be the main beneficiaries of both the care with which Mi’kmaq communities have cared for these lands and waters, and the genocide that Cornwallis and others perpetuated.”

A CBC story reporting on the fight of Lucasville residents to get the city to deal with a horse farm that they say smells up the neighborhood never mentions the community’s ancient African Nova Scotian roots. Many people in Lucasville have been vocal about their opinion that race is an important piece of the puzzle if you want to understan what is really going on here.

Historian Elliot Worsfold on Cornwallis and similar “renaming” debates: “historians should remind the public that these spaces, be they literal or ideological, have been known by many names and by many people throughout Canada’s history. Reclaiming those spaces through removing names, statues, or other symbols is more often a return to that place’s historic roots than those decrying the erasure of history often realize.”

Retired school teacher Carolyn van Gurp offers up a brief and powerful lesson to Halifax mayor and councillors. “You have a chance on Tuesday evening to begin to right years of wrong by placing the symbol of this treaty violation and subsequent atrocity where it belongs, in history books and a museum, not on a pedestal in a public park. Please make the decision to remove or relocate this statue in time for us all to truly celebrate Treaty Day together in October.”

Tony Seed reminds us that the movement to get rid of the repulsive Cornwallis statue goes back quite a while. Read the speech delivered by then 93 years young Halifax activist Betty Peterson in 2010 at the Peace and Freedom Park, and find out more about Betty and other organizers in the biographical notes Tony provides. See you at the Peace and Freedom Park this Saturday!