Halifax church changing name due to namesake's treatment of Indigenous people

Halifax church changing name due to namesake's treatment of Indigenous people

The Cornwallis Street Baptist Church will change its name because Halifax founder Edward Cornwallis was an "oppressor of our First Nations brothers and sisters," pastor Rhonda Britton says.

"We don't know what the name of the church is changing to," she said Sunday. "We just know what's it's changing from."

There have been campaigns throughout the province in recent years to remove Cornwallis's name from public places in light of his treatment of Indigenous people.

Cornwallis founded Halifax in 1749. Later that year, he issued a bounty on the scalps of Mi'kmaq men, women and children.

Timed with renovations

Britton said she didn't know Cornwallis's history when she first came to the church, but spoke with Mi'kmaq elder Daniel Paul about it.

She noted there's no historic reason the church bears his name; it's simply named after the street it sits on.

With renovations being done to the church over the next year and a half or so, it's also a fitting time to do the name change, said Britton.

She said there will be an in-church naming contest.

"We hope that it will reflect our values as people who believe that God wants to use us to be witnesses of Jesus Christ in this part of the world," said Britton.