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A Toronto Petition Is Calling To Rename Dundas Street Due To Its Link To Slavery

Henry Dundas worked hard to preserve slavery until the end of his career.
Toronto's Dundas Street Petition Is Calling For The Roadway To Be Renamed

It looks like one popular street name might be getting a facelift. A recent petition calling to reconsider the title of Toronto's Dundas Street has already garnered hundreds of signatures. The move comes due to Henry Dundas' link to "racial inequality and exploitation."

Henry Dundas was a powerful Scottish politician whom many streets and places are named after across the globe. 

According to the Let's Rename Dundas Street petition, his legacy is problematic because he opposed the abolition of slavery in the British Empire in the 18th century.

"He actively participated in obstructing the abolition of slavery in the British Empire from 1791 to the end of his political career in 1806," the petition states. 

It also says that his role in preserving slavery cost tens of thousands of lives.

According to an interview with scholar and human rights activist Sir Geoff Palmer, Henry Dundas' "interest in slavery was that he regarded it as important for the stability and the economic benefit of Great Britain."

Now that people in Toronto and across the globe are protesting for an end to systemic racism, the petition argues that upholding the names of past racist figures does not represent the values that we stand for as a city. 

The request reasons that the Toronto City Council can take steps to end any honourable mention of such historic figures.

It also states that the city should take the "constructive and symbolic step toward disavowing its historic associations with persons who have actively worked toward preserving systems of racial inequality and exploitation."

However, Toronto isn't the only city that holds the popular name. 

Along with Dundas Street in Toronto, there are also roadways with the name in Mississauga, Hamilton, Kingston, Kitchener, London, and more.

Andrew Lochhead, a Toronto resident and creator of the petition, writes that the City should partner up with Black-led organizations and societies to consider other names for the well-known street. 

In an interview with CP24, John Tory admitted that he had no idea about the history that stood behind the name of one of Toronto's popular roads. 

He also says that there needs to be a "thoughtful" approach taken in the renaming process.

“Facebook petitions are terrific but they are not the way you make public policy decisions or decisions like this,” Tory said.

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