Celebrating removed statue

A group of demonstrators sang an Indigenous honour song on Sunday at the site where a statue of Halifax's controversial founder stood just days before.

Dozens of people gathered in downtown Halifax to revel in the removal of a bronze figure of Edward Cornwallis from the park bearing his name.

Cornwallis is a disputed character, seen by some as a brave leader who founded Halifax, but by others as the impetus of a 1749 scalping proclamation against Mi'kmaq inhabitants.

The statue was taken down last week after Halifax councillors voted 12-4 to temporarily place the monument in storage while awaiting a decision about its long-term fate.

After a municipal process to re-examine Cornwallis commemorations was derailed about a week ago, Halifax council considered a staff report that highlighted rising tensions around the statue, saying Sunday's protest could result in clashes between protesters, damage to the statue and personal injury.

Police came to the park on Sunday to monitor the peaceful demonstration. While only a fraction of the hundreds of Facebook users who had expressed interest in the event showed up, the mood was jovial as activists hailed the statue's removal as what they hope will be the first of several victories in their years-long campaign to rid Halifax of its many Cornwallis tributes.

Daniel Paul, a Mi'kmaq elder and historian who has spent 30 years trying to excavate the darker side of Cornwallis's legacy, came out to walk through the park for the first time without the figure of a man he says massacred his ancestors staring down at him.

"To me, it was a symbol of white supremacist thinking," Paul told reporters. "I'm glad that our Nova Scotia society is progressing to the extent where the general population is beginning to view something like that as an impediment to good relations."

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