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The Dundas Petition Guy Is Inspiring Ontarians To Call For More Name Changes

Similar campaigns are being made in other parts of the province.
The Dundas Petition Guy Is Inspiring Ontarians To Call For More Name Changes

Retitling Dundas Street could be just the start. The Toronto resident who launched the Dundas renaming petition this week says he has been contacted by people across the province about similar initiatives. The campaign has already received support from politicians.

Andrew Lochhead fired up the campaign this week amid global anti-racism protests.

It focuses on Henry Dundas, a Scottish politician who amended an anti-slavery bill, delaying the abolition of slavery by about 15 years, per CBC.

A statue of Dundas in Edinburgh, Scotland was damaged in protest earlier this week, and Lochhead's petition has received around 10,000 signatures in just a few days of being live.

Not only that, but Toronto Mayor John Tory said on Wednesday that he has asked for a committee to be formed to look at the suggestion and the possibility of renaming other streets in the city, per CBC.

Lochhead told Narcity by phone on Friday that he "applauds" Tory's quick response to the issue, and hopes his petition sparks wider campaigns across the city.

"I think this is the way the mayor's committee should be going," he said. "I hope that an outcome of this process is an overall review and I think that's what the mayor has called for."

Lochhead added he's been delighted with the response the cause has garnered so far, from both politicians including Andrea Horwath, the Ontario NDP leader.

In addition, he notes he's received numerous calls and messages from people across the province who are looking to launch similar campaigns.

"I've also been contacted by a few other people who are hoping to get similar initiatives going," he said. "I've read about similar plans underway in London, Cambridge, Mississauga."

Some of these similar suggestions are already cropping up online.

A campaign to remove the statue of Egerton Ryerson from his namesake university has over 6,500 signatures already.

There's also one asking Mississauga to change the name of Winston Churchill Boulevard and bus station, as well as for the Eastern Ontario town of Russell to be renamed.

"People have been reaching out and are hoping to support it province-wide it seems, so the movement seems to be gaining some traction," said Lochhead. "I'm really thrilled."

It's a movement outside Ontario, too, with 14,000 people having signed a call to tear down Montreal's statue of John A. Macdonald.

However, when asked if he'll be taking things further himself, Lochhead explains his role has to end at community outreach and coalition building.

"I'm a very firm believer that this renaming process should be Black- and Indigenous-led as well as include a consultation with a variety of community stakeholders who truly represent the rich diversity of Toronto," he concluded.

"I think it's extremely important that when the city convenes a committee, they're there to facilitate and make space... and that those groups who claim a stake in this are actively leading the process."

After all, says Lochhead, street names "should be something we take pride in."

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