Mi'kmaq Activist's Announcement at Former Cornwallis School Heavy with Symbolism

By Bresge, Adina | The Canadian Press, January 10, 2018 | Go to article overview

Mi'kmaq Activist's Announcement at Former Cornwallis School Heavy with Symbolism


Bresge, Adina, The Canadian Press


Activist's announcement heavy with symbolism

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HALIFAX - When Rebecca Moore walked through the hallways as a teenage student at Cornwallis Junior High, she was inundated with reminders of the man she sees as an oppressor of her Mi'kmaq ancestors: His name was emblazoned on sweatshirts, trophies and the building's entrance.

Moore, a 27-year-old Mi'kmaq activist, returned to those same halls on Wednesday to deliver the inaugural acknowledgment that the Halifax school once named for controversial city founder Edward Cornwallis sits on her people's ancestral land.

"Good morning, students," Moore said over the speaker system. "It is my great honour to be the first to welcome you all formally to Mi'kmaq territory. The unceded traditional territory of the Mi'kmaq people."

It is important to take note of the word "unceded," she told the student body: "It means never conquered. Never surrendered."

Moore was hand-picked to kick off daily recognition of Mi'kmaq land at her alma matter, which was renamed Halifax Central Junior High in 2011.

As she waded through the throngs of students huddled at their blue lockers, Moore said she felt a touch of nostalgia for the days when being featured on the morning announcements was a notable distinction. And she said she felt healing from the trauma of being educated under the banner of a British general she believes committed genocide against her Mi'kmaq ancestors.

Cornwallis, as governor of Nova Scotia, founded Halifax in 1749 and soon after issued a bounty on Mi'kmaq scalps in response to an attack on colonists.

"It felt like I was still experiencing genocide even in my own junior high school," she told reporters. "This really is significantly good medicine for my healing and for my journey in reconciliation, and I definitely do feel reconciled with by this (junior) high school."

The Halifax Regional School Board voted in June 2017 for all schools to start the day with an acknowledgment of Mi'kmaq territory.

Principal Robert MacMillan said Halifax Central was supposed to follow other schools in adopting the practice last October, but it was delayed due to scheduling issues because he wanted Moore to introduce the students to what it means to live on Mi'kmaq land. …

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