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Multiple Ontario Cities Are Under Fire To Change Their Names Due To Racist History

Several petitions are calling for change.
Toronto Staff Writer
Ontario Cities' Names Are Under Fire Due To Their Racist History

Some cities might be getting a name change. As statues continue to be torn down across the globe due to their racist history, municipalities are also under pressure to sever ties with the figures they’re named after. Petitions are calling for changes to several Ontario cities' names with controversial roots.

As of Tuesday, Kitchener, Vaughan, and Russell are all facing backlash due to the racist history behind the names. Multiple petitions have been created to encourage these locations to change their names. 

If successful, the move could lead to the rebranding of some of the region's most prominent areas.

The cities, which are named after European historical figures, are accused of honouring racism. 

The Township of Russell faced scrutiny last week over its connection to Peter Russell, an 18th-century government official, and slaver owner. He openly opposed the abolition of slavery.

A petition to change the municipality's name, which has since gathered over 1,600 signatures, was started on June 12.

The movement caught the attention of Mayor Pierre Leroux, who is proposing to re-dedicate the town name to someone else with a first or last name spelled Russell.

A petition was also started to rename the city of Vaughan, which is named after Benjamin Vaughan, a known defender of the slave trade who owned hundreds of slaves during his lifetime.

Vaughan was also honoured back in 2013 after the city renamed its August Civic holiday to Benjamin Day.

The request is asking for both the city and the civic holiday to be changed to recognize "a new historical hero."

Meanwhile, CTV reported that Kitchener has faced similar calls for its association with British general Horatio Herbert Kitchener.

Kitchener, a historical military man whom some consider a war criminal, had a reputation of brutality, particularly when it came to his campaigns against Indigenous peoples across the globe. 

Kitchener city officials have so far shot down the idea of a name change since "Kitchener has become so much more than its historic connection to a British field marshal."

    Patrick John Gilson
    Toronto Staff Writer
    Patrick John Gilson is a Staff Writer for Narcity Canada’s Ontario Desk focused on Ontario gas prices and is based in Toronto, Ontario.
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