Some of Nova Scotia’s top tourist spots and towns are named after British military leaders who planned savage atrocities against the Micmac people, says a new book by Micmac author and political leader Dan Paul. “Their names are an affront to our people and the names of those places should be changed,” Paul said in one news report.
Among the military leaders are:
General Jeffrey Amherst, who in 1763 sent smallpox-infected blankets to the Micmacs, and later complained that he couldn’t bring over English hunting dogs to track down First Nations people. Today, the first town many tourists encounter after crossing the province’s northern border is named after Amherst.
Lord Cornwallis, the founder of Halifax, paid bounty hunters for the scalp of every Micmac person murdered. Today several schools, a town and a Canadian Forces Base in the Annapolis Valley carry his name.
Colonel Charles Lawrence issued a proclamation in 1756 offering 30 pounds for every Micmac man brought to a British fort alive, and 25 pounds for a Micmac scalp. Lawrencetown, in the Annapolis Valley, is named after him.
Paul’s book, We Were Not the Savages, says traditional Canadian history texts put these men on a pedestal, even though they killed nearly 100,000 Micmacs between the 1600s and the mid-1800s through disease and starvation campaigns, not to mention outright murder. “You don’t demand of a people its extermination and then expect them to jump and say, ‘Glory Hallelujah, we’re with you.’”
Paul, the executive director of the Confederacy of Mainland Micmacs, worked in Ottawa for Indian Affairs for 15 years. He called on Prime Minister Jean Chretien to issue an apology to the Micmacs and said the government should move on a Micmac land claim to nearly one million hectares of land. Today, the 10,000 Nova Scotia Micmacs have only 11,300 hectares of land.