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Church to change name to remove reference to controversial founder of Halifax

A statue of Edward Cornwallis stands in a Halifax park on Thursday, June 23, 2011. The Cornwallis Street Baptist Church has said it is changing its name away from the Halifax founder known for issuing a bounty on Miqmaw peoples. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

HALIFAX – An African Baptist church that dates back to the early 1800s is changing its name to scrub it of any reference to Halifax’s controversial founder.

Rev. Rhonda Britton of the Cornwallis Street Baptist Church says a motion was accepted at a recent meeting to remove any connection to Edward Cornwallis, who founded Halifax in 1749 and soon after issued a bounty on the scalps of Mi’kmaq men, women and children.

Britton says church members accepted the motion because they want to stop perpetuating the “harm that’s been done” to the Mi’kmaq, who have long called for removal of tributes to Cornwallis and actions some have deemed to be a “genocide.”

Daniel Paul, a Mi’kmaq elder and author who has led the movement to remove Cornwallis’s name from city monuments, says he was pleased with the church’s decision.

He says he’s not worried that history will be forgotten if Cornwallis’s name is removed, adding that he will continue to be remembered for founding the city but doesn’t need to be “celebrated” on buildings, parks or streets.

Halifax council rejected a bid last year to discuss updating municipal landmarks bearing Cornwallis’s name despite a simmering controversy over his violent approach to dealing with aboriginals.

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