People want Dundas Street in Toronto to be renamed because of ties to slavery
Now that we've established that Canada and Ontario have just as deep a history of systemic racism as any other country, a movement is growing to rethink who is glorified and honoured — starting with Dundas Street in Toronto.
The history behind Dundas is proving problematic.
The street is named after Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville from Edinburgh, Scotland. Dundas was a powerful politician who, among many things, is known for obstructing the abolishment of slavery in Great Britain.
A petition has begun circulating asking that City Council consider changing the name of one of the city's main arteries.
"In the wake of two weeks of protests against police murder and racial injustice, Toronto City Council can take a constructive and symbolic step toward disavowing its historic associations with persons who have actively worked toward preserving systems of racial inequality and exploitation," it says.
"As such, we ask that Toronto City Council begin a public process to rename Dundas Street in the city of Toronto to honour a more appropriate person, place or event."
The call to change the name of the street comes at a time when people in Toronto and around the world have been protesting systems of oppression that uphold anti-Black racism and enable police brutality.
Several monuments to historical figures that participated in the slave trade or were expressly racist have been removed by officials or pulled down by protesters in recent days.
A #BLM protest in Bristol, U.K., has pulled down a statue of Edward Colston, a 17th-century slave trader, dragged it through the streets and thrown it in the river. pic.twitter.com/MxDGH05wuB— Alexander Quon (@AlexanderQuon) June 7, 2020
Many in Canada are calling for the removal of monuments to such people as Sir John A. MacDonald and Samuel de Champlain.
There have been calls to rename Ryerson University for years, citing founder Egerton Ryerson's key involvement in designing Canada's residential school system.
"If we truly wish for our public street names and monuments to reflect our values and priorities we must consider engaging the public in the process of excising those names which are no longer worthy of our honour or respect. Names such as that of Henry Dundas," the petition continues.
"Street names change frequently and it's important that this one does."
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