Nova Scotia premier cautions against erasing contentious historical figures

Nova Scotia's premier has cautioned against moves to erase history amid questions about a town in his province named for a contentious British general who Montreal has decided to remove from its streetscape.

The town of Amherst, N.S., was named for Jeffery Amherst, who supported giving smallpox-laced blankets to Indigenous Peoples and whose military victories ended French rule in Canada.

On Wednesday, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre vowed to remove the name Amherst from a street in that city in order to move forward on the path of Indigenous reconciliation.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil says he has not heard concerns about the town of Amherst being named for the controversial historical figure.

McNeil says Canada can't ignore its history, but governments should be sensitive to the concerns of Indigenous groups and strike a balance whenever possible.

Mi'kmaq activist Rebecca Thomas says she would like to see Amherst change its name, but recognized that might not be feasible and said more education would ensure the public is aware of the entire history of the town's namesake.

Amherst town administrator Greg Herrett says the town's name has not been discussed by council and no concerns have been brought forward.