Skip to content

Council of Canadians asks Catherine McKenna to remove the name ‘Amherst’ from historic site

Will Minister McKenna listen to Mi’kmaq leader John Joe Sark?

Prince Edward Island-based Council of Canadians vice-chair Leo Broderick has sent a second letter to Catherine McKenna, the federal minister responsible for Parks Canada, to ask her to remove the name ‘Amherst’ from an historic site near Charlottetown.

The Canadian Press has explained, “It’s a ‘grave insult’ that a national park in PEI still bears the name of a military general who wanted to kill aboriginal people with smallpox, says a Mi’kmaq leader.”

That article highlights, “John Joe Sark, a member of the Mi’kmaq Nation traditional government, says the name of 18th-century British military commander Jeffery Amherst should be removed from the Port-la-Joye–Fort Amherst historic site near Charlottetown. ‘He may be a hero to the colonial government or the Settlers’ Society or whatever, but he’s no hero to the Mi’kmaq people.'”

In his letter to McKenna, Broderick writes, “In a letter dated February 19, 2016, the Council of Canadians asked you, as Minister responsible for Parks Canada, to support the request of Dr. John Joe Sark, Keptin of the Mi’kmaq Grand Council (PEI), to remove the name Amherst from an historic site near Charlottetown and replace it with a more appropriate name in keeping with what the Mi’kmaq people of Prince Edward Island desire.”

He highlights, “Unfortunately, as Minister, you did not see fit to honour the request of Keptin Sark by removing the name of Field Marshall Jeffrey Amherst from the Rocky Point historic site on Prince Edward Island.”

He then notes, “As you are now probably aware, this issue is of grave concern to many Islanders. In fact, an editorial in the Guardian, dated May 10, 2017 is titled ‘Honouring a monster’. It goes on to say, ‘John Joe Sark made a courageous move by returning his Order of P.E.I. award to protest the province’s silence involving infamous British Gen. Jeffery Amherst. Public protests, such as Mr. Sark’s decision last week, are often needed to finally force public officials and politicians to do the right thing. And the right thing in this case is to remove Amherst’s name from our national historic site across the Charlottetown harbour at Rocky Point.'”

Broderick concludes, “So once again we ask you Minister McKenna to show respect and sensitivity to the Mi’kmaq people by honouring the request of Keptin John Joe Sark and rename this historic site in consultation with Keptin Sark and the Mi’kmaq nation.”

To send your message to McKenna, you can contact her via:

email – Catherine.McKenna@parl.gc.ca

Twitter – @cathmckenna

telephone – 613-996-5322

Further reading
Council of Canadians supports renaming of the Port-la-Joye–Fort Amherst historic site near Charlottetown (February 19, 2016)
Parks Canada may change name of historic site after Council of Canadians request (April 27, 2016)
Parks Canada refuses to rename site that commemorates general who wanted to use small pox against Indigenous peoples (April 7, 2017)