Mi'kmaq chief wants Cornwallis River renamed

The chief of the Annapolis Valley First Nation would like to see the name of Cornwallis River changed.

The chief of the Annapolis Valley First Nation would like to see the name of Cornwallis River changed.

"Every once and a while I'll curse to myself to see this here name," said Chief Brian Toney. "It bugs me."

It's often quoted that Governor Edward Cornwallis declared "a reward of 10 Guineas be granted for every Indian Micmac taken or killed" in 1749, during a war with the Mi'kmaq.

Toney would like the Cornwallis name wiped out from the river.

"It's very disturbing to know that somebody is put on a pedestal for doing such evil towards my people."

The Annapolis Valley First Nation is located just seconds from the river.  The members of the band have to drive over the river to leave the community, which Toney said underscores how symbolic and important the issue is.

"We find it very degrading travelling back and forth everyday to see the name Cornwallis over top of a bridge that reminds us of a person who put a bounty on our scalps," said Toney.

The band has passed a resolution calling for the the name change.

Aboriginal historian Daniel Paul is working with the band to lobby the province and local governments.

"The original name is Abiskaq Siboo which means Narrow River in Mi'kmaq and that's the name we'd like it revert back to," said Paul.

CBC's calls to the province's Geographic Names Program and the warden of Kings County were not returned Tuesday.

Alison Garland lives close by and said she supports a river revision.

"If that's what they'd like to do, then why not?" said Garland.

Two months ago, the Halifax School Board voted  to erase the name from Cornwallis Junior High.

Toney said he knows critics may say renaming is rewriting history, but believes it's worth it to make peace to his people.