Halifax councillor Matt Whitman skeptical of Cornwallis committee
An eight-member committee has been formed to figure out how to acknowledge Halifax founder Edward Cornwallis, while seeking ways to celebrate Aboriginal history.
But not everyone thinks it’s a good idea, including Halifax councillor Matt Whitman
"The decision and recommendation from the committee doesn't have to be based on facts, and that's a deal-breaker for me,” Whitman says. “If the committee does not give its recommendation based on facts, I'm not sure what the value of the recommendation is."
That's one of the reasons why Whitman voted against forming the committee.
Mi'kmaq elder and author Daniel Paul says he hopes the committee is able to strike a balance.
"I hope it's people that have open minds and are willing to look at history as it transpired, not some fairytale version," says Paul
Historian John Boileau says before people pick a side, education should be a top priority.
"I just want to see the facts come out – and the real facts – not alternative facts, not emotions, not opinions, not misrepresentations, but the truth,” says Boileau. “If the truth comes out I think people will find a lot of the information which has been passed around about Cornwallis and his time here is in fact untrue."
Council is expected to choose all eight members behind closed doors. Four will be nominated by the assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Chiefs.
The committee will make recommendations on what to do with the Cornwallis statue, as well as honouring Indigenous history.
"The statue either comes down, it's contextualized better, or there is a counter piece somewhere else in the city that celebrates Indigenous territory here in Halifax, K’jipuktuk,” says Mi'kmaq activist Rebecca Thomas.
The committee will present their recommendations to council in the next six to eight months.
There’s no word yet on when the eight members will be announced.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Suzette Belliveau.