Day 6

Don't put Cornwallis in storage: Some alternative uses for a disgraced Halifax statue

After years of debate, a statue of Halifax founder Edward Cornwallis has been removed and put in storage. But Anishinaabe comedian Ryan McMahon says there are still ways to put it to good use.
The statue of Edward Cornwallis was removed Wednesday afternoon. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

by Ryan McMahon

News of the removal of a controversial statue in Halifax hit the headlines this week.

The statue of Edward Cornwallis, a military leader who founded Halifax in 1749, has been removed from its location in a Halifax park and will be put in storage, for now.

This has upset some people and sparked quite a debate.

The argument, of course, is simple: removing statues or other commemorative works will ensure that history is forgotten.

This is silly.

As long as we ain't puttin' history into storage, history will be just fine.- Ryan McMahon

History books hold the names of heroes, colonizers and maniacal dictators. As long as we ain't puttin' history into storage, history will be just fine.

This debate has sparked important dialogue in Mi'qmaq territory and has accelerated talks of reconciliation and a good pathway forward in Nova Scotia. Many other towns, cities and villages across Canada are paying attention closely to the next steps in Halifax as they attempt to get on the right side of history.


I'd suggest we need to think outside of the box here a bit. I don't know that keeping the Cornwallis statue in a storage facility is the best use for it.

With that in mind, here are some suggested uses for a perfectly good, heavy bronze thing.

Contractors examine the statue of Edward Cornwallis, a controversial historical figure, in a city park in Halifax on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)


1. We could use the statue of Cornwallis as a paperweight in Ottawa

This Liberal government has issued so many reports and has had so many political success stories in its first two years as a majority that I'm afraid every time a big gust of wind blows through from all the hot air floating around the House of Commons, all the Liberal Party's future promises to Indigenous Peoples might get lost in a policy paper tornado on the Hill. The Cornwallis statue is dead weight as far as I'm concerned, and I've got just the job for it.


2. Billet out the statue to lonely white supremacists

Nowadays, being a white supremacist is lonely and tiring work. Gone are the days where you could just gather in public with all your racist friends and plan how you'll 'get your country back.' But fret not, my lonely enemies. Billeting out Cornwallis gives lonely white supremacists someone to hangout with. And the best part is that Cornwallis doesn't talk back — which is perfect for you delicate snowflakes whose ideas fall apart the moment someone stands up to them.


3. The 'big yellow duck' boat anchor

The Ontario Liberal government took a lot of heat this summer for it's weird 'Canada 150 duck' and it's rumoured they're looking to repurpose the duck but they're not sure where to store it. But if we used the Cornwallis statue as an anchor, it'd be heavy enough to safely put that duck in just about any lake in Canada.


4. Star attraction at a Canadian colonialism museum

It's not a thing yet, but you can imagine in a post-Canada 150, post-UNDRIP, post-'Carolyn Bennett's native scarf collection' society, we'll get to a place that has perspective enough that we'll want to shine a brighter light on the country we once were. Hence: 'the Canadian Colonialism Museum and Fun Park.' Picture museum visitors exploring Canada's First Nations through virtual reality, complete with a bad drinking water taste test. We could build an arm of the museum that features the Cornwallis statue — and others — that will put the Madame Tussauds wax museum in Las Vegas to shame.


5. A goalie for NDN hockey tournaments across Canada

We're gearing up to the time of year across Canada where Native hockey rules.  A few of my cousins' teams are short a few players, and I think the Cornwallis statue would make a great puck stopper. I mean, we could even change the rules up a bit; it is rez hockey, after all. What about an extra goal for a slapshot right in the biscuit? Or, better yet, you win the whole tournament if you take Cornwallis' scalp off with a slapshot.


To hear Ryan McMahon deliver his suggested uses for the Cornwallis statue, download our podcast or click the 'Listen' button at the top of this page.