Thursday, July 2, 2020

Renaming ahead

The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Bernadette Jordan, whose federal riding, South Shore - St.Margarets,  includes Shelburne, NS, has announced that the CCGS Edward Cornwallis, currently in Vessel Life Extension refit at Irving Shipbuilding's Shelburne Ship Repair facility, will be renamed.

The original namesake, cited as founder of Halifax in 1749 and governor of Nova Scotia, has been in disrepute for sometime for his policies regarding indigenous people. In recent years a statue in a Halifax park named for him has been removed and a junior high school renamed. A city street still bears his name, but a church on that street has been renamed. Several other references can still be found in and around Halifax despite the public attention drawn to the issue.

The current ship is the second to bear the name and the official policy was that the second ship was named for the first, and that renaming existing ships was just not done. My infamous open letter to the previous minister (which was not popular with all readers) likely had no bearing, but it does summarize the situation as I saw it.

Pressure was brought to bear by indigenous leaders, and the Minister has invited the leaders to suggest a new name. This will be an important devitation from policy and a welcome openness to dealing positively with issues.

There can be no doubt that the current ship and its predecessor did excellent work during their careers, and it is unfortunate that the original name choice will cloud those achievements. The pride that seafarers had in their ships was not misplaced, however it is not too late to acknowledge a wrong.

One name suggestion that has already been heard is the name of Donald Marshall Jr. That is a doubly
important name in Canada and Nova Scotia / Mi'kmaq relations, but perhaps still controversial since the ship is tasked with fisheries patrols from time to time. There are still pockets of resentment on both sides over the Supreme Court's granting of fishing rights to indigenous communities.

If you are not aware of the significance of Donald Marshall Jr's name, there is a barely adequate summary on Wikipedia:

I predict continuing controversy on this topic as long as the Canadian government insists on naming ships after people.

No comments:

Post a Comment