Petition to rename Dundas Street garners attention amid renewed focus on monuments
Renewed focus on Canada’s legacy of anti-Black racism has given fresh voice to calls for public officials to consider renaming monuments honouring the guardians of colonialism, including a street that stretches through much of the Greater Toronto Area.
Those seeking to rename Dundas Street, which crosses Toronto and numerous other southern Ontario cities, argue that street names and monuments should reflect present-day values rather than glorify the likes of Henry Dundas, an 18th-century politician who delayed Britain’s abolition of slavery by 15 years.
“People take for granted that street names don’t matter, but they do because they speak about our values,” said Melanie Newton, a history professor at the University of Toronto. “They inscribe historical realities of power and privilege into the landscape that we move through every day.”
She said such statues, schools, buildings and streets send a message not only to those who have been put on the margins, but to those who do the marginalizing.
“The argument that these monuments are there to remind us of inequality is nonsense,” she said. “These monuments … are there to remind people that whatever change happens, the kind of power and privilege that these people represent is still the foundation of the state and its structures and of the order of society.
“They are there to reassure those with power that even as society changes, they do not have to worry that their power will really be threatened.”
As for the lack of knowledge about his role in perpetuating slavery in the British Empire, Newton said it’s a symptom of a broader problem.
“It is not just an act of violence against Black students or Indigenous students — everybody is being miseducated about the origins of their own country in ways that impoverish us all,” she said. “That we can walk down a street like Dundas and not realize what a terrible thing it is? We should not have to do that.”
The issue of renaming streets and removing statues in Canada is hardly new. For instance, a statue of Halifax founder Edward Cornwallis, who put a bounty on Mi’kmaq scalps, was the subject of months of protests before eventually being removed from a city park in January 2018. Later that year, Victoria city council removed a statue of Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, who was also an architect of the residential school system.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said it’s time for another national conversation on the topic. – Canadian Press
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I am sure that you can tie any street name to slavery, colonization or racism. Arthur Street? There has to be someone named Arthur that was a slave owner or white colonist. Same with Edward or May. Victoria for sure. Its best to rename EVERY street in Thunder Bay just to be safe. To be even safer and avoid future problems, streets should use numbers. Parks need to be renamed…use numbers. Numbers are safe. Unless you use numbers such as 13 and 666. Skip those.
All monuments need to be removed. Statues and war memorials need to go. Get rid of them all. You never know what historical horrors are awaiting discovery by the mob.
Maybe people should have their names replaced by numbers as well. Just to be safe you understand.
Then there is the elephant in the city that nobody is talking about: Fort William Historical Park. There is no larger symbol of white colonialism in the country than FWHP. This thing has to be closed. The fact that the local Indigenous Lives Matter group has not demanded the closure of that facility is perplexing.
If we are going to be serious about reconciliation and rid the country of monuments to colonialism then Fort William Historical Park has to go. I can’t see anyway around it. We need to wipe the slate clean. Start fresh.
I wonder what else needs to be done…