Sat. May 21st, 2022

Toronto’s mayor’s office has released a report recommending the renaming of Dundas Street and other civic assets bearing the Dundas name amid controversy over the history of who they are named after.

The recommendation was made after a petition signed by over 14,000 people calling for a change of street name as protests against racism erupted in Toronto and around the world.

The creator of the petition, Andrew Lochhead, told Global News that the idea came to him after the Black Lives Matter protests, particularly the demolition of the Edward Colston statue in Scotland, which brought him to the attention of Henry Dundas.

Dundas Street, which runs through Toronto and several other cities in southern Ontario, was named after Henry Dundas, an 18th-century politician who delayed Britain’s abolition of slavery by 15 years.

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The report also highlighted “Dunda’s role in the continued subjugation of indigenous peoples in Canada in its capacity as British Home Secretary,” the city said in a press release on Monday.

Freeing Toronto from the name Dundas will cost an estimated $ 5.1 to $ 6.3 million. The costs include the renaming of Yonge-Dundas Square, two metro stations and all related signage, the report notes.

Another petition was also circulated against the renaming of the street shortly after the original in 2020. It started getting more signatures after Monday’s announcement. Monday afternoon, it had about 500 signatures.

The report by Mayor Chris Murray was based on “feedback from community leaders and business groups, including leaders from blacks and indigenous communities, as well as a comprehensive review of academic research on Dunda’s role in abolition and more than 400 global case studies on the development of memorial and naming policies. , ”Continued the release.

Toronto Mayor John Tory supported the decision, saying it was an opportunity for the city to make a statement “to include those who have been marginalized and recognize the significant impact that past history can have on today’s lives.”

He went on to say that Dundas itself has no connection to the city of Toronto.

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Tory said there are nearly 60 names that have gotten the city’s attention being renamed based on links to controversial past events and figures.

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There are at least 12 streets named after slave owners, the report noted.

However, the mayor said the process of deciding whether to rename a street should be carried out in an “orderly manner”.

“You want to be sure where you make a change, it’s a perfectly justified thing to do,” he said at an independent news conference Monday.

“Dundas Street was a case in itself in the sense that I had requested a specific report in light of all the interest and concern that existed in the community about Dundas Street and Mr. Dundas,” Tory said, adding that will be a report next spring outlining the framework for how future decisions can be made.

This coincides with the hope Lochhead had when he first created the petition – the idea of ​​renaming Dundas would be the first of many actions.

“One of the original goals … one of the key requirements was not only the discovery process, but that any future work should center black and native voices, and I’m really excited that the city is strongly committed to that – not just in words, but in visible and measurable action, ”Lochhead said.

Murray wrote that the petition led to a “broader review of how the city commemorates public figures and events,” which has now been called a “recognition review.”

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“Most memorials in Toronto represent the stories of white settlers in positions of power,” the mayor wrote.

While Lochhead was thrilled with the city’s recommendation, he expressed disappointment that it had taken so long for action to be taken.

“It is not the case that no one has asked for it before, we just refused to listen. So it’s a mixed feeling, ”he said.

“[The] events in the last few weeks, namely the location of mass and unmarked graves in Indian residential schools in our country have shown us how urgent we have to act on these memorials, these celebrations of genocide and colonial violence and slavery in our cities, Continued Lochhead.

“I think it should make it clear why we should do something and why it is not acceptable to do nothing.”

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The Executive Committee will review the report on July 6, and if approved, it will then be submitted to Toronto City Council on July 14 and 15.

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Anyone who either wants to contribute their views or wants to speak before the city council about the renaming of Dundas Street can do so here.

“As the report notes, this is not deleting the story – as some critics of such a change may charge – this recognizes a major story that we must not ignore,” the statement said.

“By continuing with this change, we are sending a strong message as a city about who we collectively honor and remember in public space, and we reaffirm our commitment to tackling anti-black racism and reconciliation with indigenous communities.”

Lochhead said his hope is that other municipalities and institutions take note and follow in the footsteps of Toronto’s recommendation.

With files from The Canadian Press

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© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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