Nova Scotia

Peace and Friendship Park officially replaces Cornwallis Park name

Peace and Friendship Park is the new name for a Halifax park that was originally named for Edward Cornwallis, the city's founder.

Halifax regional council approved the change Tuesday with immediate effect

The park that used to commemorate Edward Cornwallis is now officially known as Peace and Friendship Park. (Gareth Hampshire/CBC)

Peace and Friendship Park is the new name for a Halifax park that was originally named for Edward Cornwallis, the city's founder.

Halifax regional council made the change official in a unanimous vote Tuesday following the recommendation of a task force last year.

A statue of Cornwallis that used to be in the park in the city's south end was taken down and placed in storage in 2018. That followed a number of demonstrations drawing attention to his so-called scalping proclamation against Mi'kmaw men, women and children.

The proclamation from Nova Scotia's governor in 1749 promised a bounty to anyone who carried out the killings.

"I'm very happy, I've been working on this for over 30 years," said Daniel Paul, a Mi'kmaw elder and historian who was part of the task force.

The statue of Edward Cornwallis was removed from the park in January 2018. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

Paul first raised the issue of Cornwallis's statue being offensive in the 1980s in newspaper columns but remembers being accused of revisionist history at that time.

"It takes a long time to change attitudes, so it was a matter of educating," he said.

Mayor Mike Savage praised his colleagues and staff for working with the Mi'kmaw community on a number of reconciliation efforts to help drive some of that change. 

"I think it's an awesome sign of where we have come as a municipality and a lot of the hard work that has been done by councillors and by staff," Savage said.

We have plenty of people in society who are good people, we don't need to idolize monsters- Daniel Paul, Mi'kmaw elder

Council is now working on a commemoration ceremony to unveil the new signage for the park. That could be later this month.  

"I think the change of the name in the park marks a really important moment in the history of Halifax and it's important to me to see some type of commemoration and explanation for why the name was changed," said Coun. Kathryn Morse. 

Paul, who is 82, said the new name, Peace and Friendship Park is the one he preferred.

"That was my favourite, I thought it was something that will be inclusive all around," he said.

Paul is glad to see the Cornwallis name being removed from public places. "We have plenty of people in society who are good people, we don't need to idolize monsters," he said.

While the name of the park changed with Tuesday's vote, there is still some work to be done when it comes to the Cornwallis name.

Municipal staff are working on a process to change the name of Cornwallis Street that will include public consultation.

One idea is to rename it New Horizons Street following the move by the church which also dropped the Cornwallis name.

Council will also be looking at introducing the Mi'kmaw language in other place names and signs such as changing Chebucto Road to K'jipuktuk Road.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gareth Hampshire is an award-winning journalist who began his career with CBC News in 1998. He has worked as a reporter in Edmonton and is now based in Halifax.

With files from Pam Berman

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