Hon. Brian Francis: Honourable senators, I would like to begin by acknowledging that we are gathered on the traditional unceded, unsurrendered territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe people.
I rise today on behalf of our colleague Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard, who could not be with us today. Her words are as follows:
I wish to pay tribute to an incredible person, Mi’kmaw Elder Dr. Daniel Paul. I have known Dan Paul for many years and have always admired his drive for social change and his fierce dedication to bringing justice to the Mi’kmaq.
Daniel Paul has been instrumental in expanding our collective understanding of Mi’kmaq history and helping to dismantle colonialism in Nova Scotia. His book We Were Not the Savages is essential reading for all Nova Scotians. In his own words, “it’s our history.” His attempts to achieve a more just society have benefited all Nova Scotians, including African Nova Scotians.
Dan Paul advocated for the critical re-evaluation of Halifax’s founder, Edward Cornwallis, as a celebrated figure in Nova Scotia. Dr. Paul has been a long-time advocate, informing the public about Cornwallis’s violent history of scalping proclamations and cultural genocide.
The Cornwallis statue in downtown Halifax was finally removed in 2018, and I will always attribute that triumph largely to his 30 plus years of public education.
During my time teaching social work at Dalhousie University, Dr. Paul regularly appeared as a guest speaker in my classes. Dan Paul has advocated for contributions of Indigenous people to be recognized in Nova Scotia. Today, I invite Canadians to learn more about his contributions to social change.
His impact is significant, and he continues to inspire many social work students who have had the privilege of learning through reading the fourth edition of his book.
Elder Daniel Paul, thank you for all you have done for Nova Scotia. Your commitment to social change is admirable and will continue to inspire me for years to come.
Asante, wela’lin, thank you.