Top News

Booker School responds to removal of Cornwallis statue in Halifax

From left: Henry Mulherin, Forrest Robinson, Will Mercer and Hana Hutchinson, four of the Booker School students who came up with a unique solution to the imposing Cornwallis Statue, which stood atop a pedestal until temporarily removed Jan. 31 in Halifax.
From left: Henry Mulherin, Forrest Robinson, Will Mercer and Hana Hutchinson, four of the Booker School students who came up with a unique solution to the imposing Cornwallis Statue, which stood atop a pedestal until temporarily removed Jan. 31 in Halifax. - Sara Ericsson

Students' feeling 'empowered' by attention their proposal has received, despite statue's removal

PORT WILLIAMS, NS – The teacher and students of a grade 6 to 8 class in Port Williams have responded to the recent removal of Halifax’s notorious Cornwallis statue after speaking out several weeks ago with a unique solution.

The statue was temporarily removed from its pedestal Jan. 31 after repeated protests from various groups, including members of the Aboriginal community, who want it gone.

But the class of students at the Booker School, which regularly looks at reconciliation issues and encourages activism among its students, argues the statue should be left standing, among three other statues also representing African Nova Scotian, Acadian and Mi’kmaq histories, with plaques noting both positive and negative points in history.

The statue of Edward Cornwallis is lifted from its base in the park that still bears his name in Halifax Jan. 31. TIM KROCHAK • THE CHRONICLE HERALD
The statue of Edward Cornwallis is lifted from its base in the park that still bears his name in Halifax Jan. 31. TIM KROCHAK • THE CHRONICLE HERALD

“We understand why different groups want the statue taken down, and we agree it should no longer sit on the pedestal, but we’re offering another solution,” says Temma Frecker, the students’ teacher.

The students’ idea, which they reached collectively after several rounds of discussion and debate, proposes the Cornwallis statue be lowered to ground level and joined by Viola Desmond, Grand Chief John Denny Jr., and Noël Doiron, who were each identified by the students as leaders in African Nova Scotian, Mi’kmaq and Acadian history, respectively, within the province’s wider past.

The idea has been referenced in short snippets by Halifax’s regional council members twice on the radio, as heard by the students’ parents, and several times in the media, making Frecker wonder if its true intention came across to listeners and readers.

“There’s a difference between a ‘founders’ park’ and a meaningful art installation with the point being to encourage discussion, critical thinking and the repercussions of history,” says Frecker.

Booker School teacher Temma Frecker is feeling proud of her students after seeing them reach a consensus on an insightful and clear solution to the controversial Cornwallis statue. “I was convinced… it had to go, but hearing their thoughtful ideas changed that,” she said.
Booker School teacher Temma Frecker is feeling proud of her students. “I was convinced… it had to go, but hearing their thoughtful ideas changed that,” she said.

The students are due to meet with Waye Mason, a councillor, on Feb. 7 to discuss their proposal, and have extended invitations to other decision-makers throughout the Halifax and Kings County areas.

Frecker says her students are feeling quite proud that their idea has been gaining such traction and notice.

“The students are feeling great. It’s crazy how much has happened over the last week, and as we were reflecting on the school year, several students mentioned feeling empowered by what this proposal has achieved so far,” she says.

“There are still some nerves that come with a meeting like this, but time will tell what happens from here.”

Recent Stories