Toronto is officially looking into renaming Dundas Street
The city will look into potentially renaming Dundas Street in Toronto, Mayor John Tory said today.
A petition, which as generated over 5,000 signatures, is asking for the city to consider changing the name of Dundas Street, and has caught the attention of officials. Now a task force will be formed to look into a possible name change.
The street named after 18th-century Scottish politician Henry Dundas is proving problematic because of his position on slavery in Great Britain.
On street names and monuments: Toronto's Dundas Street is named after Henry Dundas, the 1st Viscount Melville.— Elamin Abdelmahmoud (@elamin88) June 9, 2020
Dundas added an amendment to a slavery-abolishing bill, suggesting it be "gradually" abolished. His amendment led to 630,000 slaves waiting 15 more years for freedom.
At a time when tributes to historical figures associated with slavery and racism are being reexamined, toppled or removed, Tory said during today's press briefing that "there is no place for anti-Black racism in our city."
"We have been clear about that, at the same time acknowledging that it still exists in 21st century Toronto and that there has been plenty of anti-Black racism in Toronto's past."
In all the years I lived in Toronto, I never really thought about who Dundas Street was named for. He was… not a good guy. His main political accomplishment was prolonging the slave trade. https://t.co/7X2BblASuv— Q. Pheevr (@qpheevr) June 8, 2020
"That has sparked a discussion about Dundas Street, and other streets and spaces and installations in our city."
Tory said that he's asked City Manager Chris Murray to form a working group of city staff to "examine this issue broadly."
"Renaming a major street or public space does create many practical challenges," he said, "but we should have a process that can examine our very important and relevant historical questions, along with all of the practical matters involved if such changes were to be made."
Tory said that the city does have a street naming policy and process, but "in light of the context in which this particular street name has arisen, a broader and more in-depth examination and discussion is warranted."
I’ve lived in Toronto all my life and did not know Dundas Street was named after a Scottish MP who was a leading opponent of the slavery abolition movement. I support renaming the street, especially as it runs across so much of the city.— Jesse Hawken (@jessehawken) June 10, 2020
Tory said he's requested that the working group report back within 30 days on how the city should proceed with potentially renaming the street.
The push to remove tributes to problematic historical figures in Toronto and around the world has been growing, with renewed calls to rename Ryerson University and remove monuments to other Canadian figures.
The petition to rename Dundas outlines that the city "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."
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