Cornwallis committee now independent from municipality
'We thought it was more appropriate,' says Chief Roderick Googoo
The advisory committee tasked with looking into the commemoration of Edward Cornwallis and Indigenous history has morphed into an arm's length joint task force and it could take years to see final recommendations.
The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Chiefs will now share the costs and host half of the meetings. The change was approved by Halifax officials in mid-December.
"We thought it was more appropriate," said Chief Roderick Googoo, co-chair of the task force. "We wanted to be independent."
When Halifax agreed to the change, municipal officials asked the task force to try to come up with recommendations within two years.
"We will aim for that, but we may need a longer time," said co-chair Monica MacDonald.
Members met for the first time for a brief meeting in October when they voted to change the structure of the committee. The idea was it would create a more equal partnership between the Mi'kmaw community and the municipality.
The task force has yet to decide if it will tackle Indigenous history first and then deal with the city's controversial former governor in a second phase.
A statue of Cornwallis was taken down in January 2018 and put in storage.
"Everyone is obsessed with the statue, and that is not the main issue," explained Googoo. "It's about how to find a way to move forward."
The new group's first meeting was held at Halifax City Hall Monday night. It began with a smudging ceremony and included a video on treaty education.
While the task force plans to continue to have public meetings, some of them will be in private. Summaries of the private meetings will be posted.
The group has already started receiving written submissions.
Public consultation sessions are planned for the spring.