APTN National News
CHARLOTTETOWN – Parks Canada is being advised to consider revising the name of a national park in Prince Edward Island to better reflect its Mi’kmaq history, but it has also received a recommendation that the name of a military officer who wanted to kill Aboriginal people with smallpox should remain.
An excerpt from a meeting of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada last September recommended that parks officials consult with the Mi’kmaq community to see if there is a historic name for Rocky Point, where the Port-la-Joye _ Fort Amherst historic site is located.
John Joe Sark, a member of the Mi’kmaq Nation traditional government, has submitted Mi’kmaq names for Parks Canada to consider, but he says he won’t be satisfied until the name of General Jeffery Amherst is scrubbed from the historic site.
“They talk on one side about truth and reconciliation, but when you tell them the truth, they don’t want to do anything about it,” says Sark. “You don’t right wrongs by keeping the name of a tyrant.”
Sark has been campaigning for the name change since 2008, arguing that is insulting because Amherst’s goal was to wipe out Aboriginal peoples.
The board said it discussed Sark’s request at length but ultimately determined that Amherst’s name should remain because of the location’s historical ties to the British government.
In a letter dated April 9 to Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, Sark disputes this justification, saying there is no historic record of Amherst spending time at Port-la-Joye.
Parks Canada was not immediately available for comment Sunday.
Amherst, an officer in the British Army in the mid-1700s, is considered a key architect of British victories in the Seven Years’ War for control of New France territories in North America. Several places in the U.S. and Canada, such as Amherstburg, Ont., bear his name.
Amherst College in Massachusetts said last month the British military commander would no longer appear in school communications or as an unofficial mascot. Lord Jeff _ as he was known around campus _ was seen as an oppressive figure who supported using blankets infected with smallpox to kill Aboriginal people.
2 thoughts on “PEI park should keep controversial British general’s name: Board recommends”
One of the most insidious reason that the National Historic Sites Committee, Parks Canada, has stated to me in a litter I discussed earlier is the fact that, “the historic place name of Fort Amherst is intimately associated with the expulsion of the Acadians in 1758”.
One of the greatest problems that the indigenous peoples face in Canada is the systemic practice of structural and institutional racism and discrimination practiced against us by the dominant society, and by Canadian Federal Government department like Parks Canada. For instance, if you were to visit Province House, PEI, commonly known as the cradle of confederation before 1989, you would be invited to view an audiovisual presentation concerning the fathers of confederation. This presentation was prepared by National Parks Canada. In this particular presentation, the Indigenous people are depicted as ¨heathens and infidels. The portrayal of the Indigenous people as heathens and infidels is an insult, not only to the Mi`kmaq but to all Canadians as well. About 800,000 people visit Charlottetown each year each year, many of these People also visit Province House and leave with a derogatory image of the Mi`kmaq and other indigenous people of Canada embedded in their minds–an image that has given rise to the attitude that enabled the Federal government to practice cultural genocide against us. I complained to the Federal Minister at that time and had that terrible video removed.
arks Canada Officials have stated: “Historians have found evidence in correspondence with others in the British military in the 1700s that Amherst advocated spreading the smallpox virus to aboriginal people using blankets. However, there is no direct evidence Amherst handed out smallpox-infected blankets himself.” Part of that statement is true, but as general of the British Military at the time, if a general gave orders to his Officer, they had to be carried out. If his troops didn’t follow his orders they could be court marshalled and shot.
It is ironic that Parks Canada fails to see and acknowledge the truth, when even the British summoned him home and asked him to account for his conduct towards the Native Americans.
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