The long-awaited actions of the federal Minister of the Environment Catherine McKenna to remove the name Fort Amherst and to acknowledge the atrocities committed against the Mi’kmaq people was both insulting and once again has shown a clear lack of acknowledging the truth of our painful historical past.
Renaming the site with Skmaqn-Port-la-Joye-Fort Amherst is simply pointing out that government has no desire at achieving true reconciliation. Gen. Jeffrey Amherst advocated the use of biological warfare to kill Indigenous peoples. This was a genocidal act at eliminating an entire Indigenous population.
I would urge both Chief Matilda Ramjattan, of Lennox Island and Chief Brian Francis of the Abegweit First Nations to reject these changes, and stand against this insulting gesture. Show the courage that your people and all Islanders require. Justice, and true reconciliation, is not served by bowing to this government and serving the continued process of settler colonialism. Let the Mi'kmaq people speak, and let us hear the collective voices of our First Nations people on and off reserve.
Instead we should all see this as an opportunity to speak truth to our history by celebrating our First Nations brothers and sisters. What an opportunity to erect monuments that celebrate our First Nations heroes like: Tom Longboat, Louis Riel, Chief Dan George, and Daphne Odjig but to name a few.
Reconciliation will only come when we release ourselves from our collective shame and accept history in its truest form. That time is now.