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lawyer Katherine Hensel says a group of young men dressed in black golf shirts who interrupted an Indigenous protest on Canada Day in Halifax conducted themselves in a way that was disruptive and potentially threatening for Indigenous people. (Anjuli Patil/CBC) The suggestion Edward Cornwallis, a British military officer and one of the founders of Halifax, was justified in offering a bounty for the scalps of Mi’kmaq risks justifying violence against Indigenous people today, says a leading Indigenous lawyer.

"I think Indigenous people in Canada are No. 1 on the target list for this type of far-right rhetoric and activity and potential violence and actual violence," Katherine Hensel told CBC News Network’s Power & Politics .

Hensel was responding to an interview on Wednesday’s edition of Power & Politics in which Gavin McInnes, a co-founder of Proud Boys — a so-called "Western chauvinist" organization associated with the far right — defended Cornwallis’s scalping proclamation.

"Can you see why Cornwallis issued a bounty on the Mi’kmaq?" McInnes asked guest host Hannah Thibedeau. "What happened with the Mi’kmaq was the French were using them to fight the English and they were kicking our butts. Cornwallis after several murders said, ‘Let’s issue a bounty.’"

The exchange stems from an incident on Saturday when a number of Indigenous people and activists held a protest at the Edward Cornwallis statue in downtown Halifax. The protest was disrupted by five off-duty military members wearing black polo shirts, carrying a Red Ensign and referring to themselves as Proud Boys.

In defending his group’s actions on Canada Day, McInnes made some controversial comments that CBC News acknowledged at the outset of Thursday’s program were not sufficiently challenged at the time his interview aired.

"Ahead of that conversation we failed to inform you of some anti-Jewish sentiments McInnes has expressed in the past," Thibedeau […]

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