Cornwallis Street signs taken down by municipal staff in Sydney, N.S.
SYDNEY, N.S. -- It may not have been as dramatic as when the statue of Edward Cornwallis was removed from downtown Halifax two years ago, but a significant step was taken Monday on the street bearing his name in Sydney, N.S.
The street signs have been removed on what for generations has been Cornwallis Street.
They were hastily taken down by the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) after a Mi'kmaq elder threatened to tear them down himself on Sunday, on national Indigenous Peoples Day.
"I don’t think I want them growing up asking that question, 'Why hasn’t somebody done something?'" Daniel Paul said on Sunday. "Well, granddad’s going to do something."
CBRM Mayor Cecil Clarke says discussions about this have been in the works for a while, with the chiefs of Membertou and Eskasoni First Nations.
He says the municipality's legal team has looked into it and now a motion will go before council to change the street's name.
"All evidence points to the fact that it would be associated with Edward Cornwallis," Clarke said. "There’s no other reference that’s been able to be found, so that will now initiate the process of the solicitor reporting to council. Given the events recently, we’ll bring that forward at our next meeting – which is tomorrow."
In Membertou, five minutes away from Cornwallis Street, Chief Terry Paul agrees that a change is long overdue.
"It’s been a hell of a long time for some of these names that really irritated us and bothered us because of what they’ve done to us," said Chief Terry Paul.
Clarke says changing the name of any street takes time and there are considerations when it comes to peoples' mailing information, and property deeds.
He admits there are those in his community who would never have thought twice about the name Cornwallis Street, but says taking down the signs was an important first step.
"If we had a statue in our community, we wouldn’t be talking about it today, because it would have been removed just like Halifax," Clarke said. "So, what’s in a name? Lots, if it’s affecting your very neighbours and friends in a negative way."
While the man who started all of this has asked that the street be renamed after Donald Marshall Jr., Clarke says any new street name suggestions will have to be brought before council.