Canadian Coast Guard to Rename Icebreaker CCGS Edward Cornwallis in Response to Concerns by Mi’kmaq People

The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) is planning to rename its icebreaker CCGS Edward Cornwallis in response to long-standing concerns by the Mi’kmaq people in Nova Scotia.

The plan for the name change was announced by Bernadette Jordan, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard; and Chief Terry Paul, the Chief of Membertou First Nation, on June 30.

The Minister said that she will ask the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs to recommend a new name for the ship. She is expected to announce the name of the vessel before it leaves the Shelburne Shipyard later this year.

The Mi’kmaq and many other citizens of Nova Scotia have raised numerous concerns about the namesake over his treatment of the Mi’kmaq people. In 1749, Edward Cornwallis sought to drive the Mi’kmaq from their lands on peninsular Nova Scotia through barbaric measures including a bounty against the Mi’kmaq men, women, and children.

The renaming will follow Coast Guard’s formal policy for this vessel class, which is named to honour former leaders who have made significant contributions to the country. The ship is currently in Shelburne, Nova Scotia undergoing vessel life extension work through early 2021. The CCG will hold a re-dedication to service ceremony to honour this change.

CCGS Edward Cornwallis
CCGS Edward Cornwallis, a Martha L. Black-class icebreaker of the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG).

“Reconciliation is imperative to our country’s future, and advancing it is the responsibility of every individual and institution. By renaming the Cornwallis, we take another step in righting the wrongs of our country’s past. As we make way for a new name, one chosen in partnership with the Mi’kmaq people, we have a new opportunity to shine a light on a leader whose actions embody the values we hold today. Reconciliation is a shared journey, and I’m very thankful to Chief Paul and the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs’ leadership for their ongoing guidance and partnership,” said Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.

“As we work together with Minister Jordan to address the long-standing negative history of figures of the past, today we are witnessing reconciliation in action. The Mi’kmaq have called this land home since time immemorial, however, the dark legacy of early settlers continues to serve as a painful reminder of the inequalities that still exist today. As we right the wrongs of the past, we build stronger relations for the future”, said Chief Terry Paul, Chief & CEO, Membertou.

“When I was informed that CCGS Edward Cornwallis would be renamed it made my day. This is what reconciliation is all about, our society should be comfortable for all races to reside in, it is not possible when a historical wrong is left to fester and be an affront to the human dignity of another race, in this case, the Mi’kmaq. Hats off to the Honourable Bernadette Jordan for making this decision, she is a lady who saw a wrong and corrected it, Wela’lin, (thank you)!,” said Mi’kmaw Saqmawiey, Daniel N. Paul, C.M., O.N.S.

“The men and women of the Canadian Coast Guard are proud to serve Indigenous peoples and other Canadians in Nova Scotia and across this country as we work together on search and rescue, environmental response, aids to navigation and marine protection. The new name of the ship will reflect that pride”, said Mario Pelletier, the Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard.

CCGS Edward Cornwallis

The CCGS Edward Cornwallis is a Martha L Black-class icebreaker of the Canadian Coast Guard. She is a high-endurance multi-tasked vessel, which performs light icebreaking and buoy tending operations essential to keeping waters open and safe for marine traffic.

The vessel entered into service in 1986 and its home port is located at the Canadian Coast Guard base in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

On March 2, 2020, a contract for $12.1 million was awarded to Shelburne Ship Repair, of Shelburne, Nova Scotia, for vessel life extension work on the ship. This work is expected to be completed in early 2021.

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