Cornwallis and Indigenous Commemoration

Published June 6, 2019 by A.J.B. Johnston

The first four sessions of public engagement in the process dealing with issues relating to Edward Cornwallis and to the need for greater Indigenous Commemoration wrapped up this week.

All of us on the Task Force were greatly impressed by the numbers of people who attended the sessions at the Mi’kmaq Friendship Centre, St. Mary’s University, the Millbrook First Nation Community Centre and the Zatzman Dartmouth Sportsplex — and equally by those who gave what were clearly heartfelt presentations. My guess is that close to 200 people came out to the four sessions, with about 50 coming up to the mic to speak.

Perspectives on the topic of Cornwallis and the early history of Halifax ranged widely, and the Task Force thanks all who took the time to offer their individual views.

Everyone in all four settings followed the guidelines, which asked for respectful silence to be given to each speaker, with no interruptions of any kind. The sessions were intended to be for listening, not debate, and that’s exactly what happened.

One observation I had was that regardless of the differing points of view expressed, each speaker came there for the same reason: which was to share their perspective on the matters under discussion in the hopes that it would resonate with others. Their presentations were affirmations of hope that others would see value in their point of view. Talking not shouting. It was, the Task Force believes, how such controversial issues need to be dealt with for us all to move forward.

There will be more public engagement sessions in the fall. In the meantime, the Task Force meets once a month to discuss how best to move toward reconciliation on both important topics.

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