Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Church to Change Name to Remove Reference to Controversial Founder of Halifax

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Church to Change Name to Remove Reference to Controversial Founder of Halifax

Article excerpt

Church to remove reference to city's founder


HALIFAX - An African Baptist church that dates back to the early 1800s is changing its name to scrub it of any reference to Halifax's controversial founder, who some say was guilty of a type of genocide against the Mi'kmaq.

Rev. Rhonda Britton of the Cornwallis Street Baptist Church said Monday that a motion was accepted at a recent meeting to remove any connection to Edward Cornwallis, who founded Halifax in 1749 and soon after issued a bounty on the scalps of Mi'kmaq men, women and children.

Britton said church members accepted the motion because the name perpetuates the harm done to the Mi'kmaq, who have long called for removal of municipal tributes to Cornwallis because of actions some have deemed to be genocidal.

"I was really pleased that folks seemed to grab hold of that and be excited by it," she said. "The elders who have been here the longest are in favour the change. People recognize that you can't change the history, but you don't have to perpetuate the harm."

Daniel Paul, a Mi'kmaq elder and author who has led the movement to remove Cornwallis's name from city monuments, said he was pleased with the church's decision. He had met with Britton soon after she took on the ministry in 2007 and has been a vocal advocate for the name change.

Paul said he's not worried that history will be forgotten or sanitized if Cornwallis's name is removed, adding that he will continue to be remembered for founding the city but doesn't need to be "celebrated" on buildings, parks or streets.

"It will not be forgotten as long as I'm alive," he said with a laugh, adding that he successfully encouraged a developer in the city not to name an office building after Cornwallis.

"I would like to see this province stop honouring the man as a public hero. He's part of the history of Nova Scotia -- you can't change that and he should not be removed from history books -- but I don't think this man should be held up as a heroic figure. …

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