I grew up in rural Nova Scotia and last week was grateful and relieved to read that the Halifax Regional School Board voted to rename Cornwallis Junior High, a public school named after the city founder Edward Cornwallis who was a British military officer who founded Halifax and in 1749 offered a bounty for the scalps of Mi’kmaq men, women and children in. Dan Paul, a Mi’kmaq elder, has been trying to remove Cornwallis’ name for 25 years from the school. I feel a mix of sadness and frustration that he had to wait so long and work so tirelessly for non-indigenous people to finally reach a place of understanding and take action to address racist violence and injustice by changing the school’s name.
When I work with young people in the classroom, I encourage them to understand the importance of relationship skills such as self-reflection, being able to listen rather than grow defensive and the great skill of being willing to say, “I was wrong and I’m sorry.” These skills are personal and political skills that increase one’s sense of vulnerability and presence.
May we each continue to be open to investigating with our hearts and minds so that all people can be honoured?
Christina Antonick, R+R Facilitator