Revisionists in Toronto
Don’t get us wrong, a good idea that is rooted in great intentions is a nice thought. But ultimately a inanimate lifeless object such
as a street sign is hurting and bothering absolutely no-one.
From this viewpoint, changing street names or removing statues is seen as a largely symbolic gesture. It’s argued that these actions do not address the underlying issues or historical injustices in a substantive way. Instead, it’s suggested that efforts should focus on making tangible improvements in the lives of communities affected by historical injustices.
Preserving historical names and monuments can be seen as a way to maintain a sense of continuity with the past. Even if the past is troubled or controversial, this perspective values the preservation of historical memory in its original form. It’s argued that understanding history requires confronting the uncomfortable aspects of the past as they were, not as we wish they had been.
There’s a concern that renaming streets and removing statues might lead to a form of historical erasure. This perspective holds that keeping these names and monuments serves as a reminder of the past, including its more problematic aspects, and can provoke important discussions about history and its legacy.
The practical implications, such as the cost of renaming and the inconvenience it might cause to residents and businesses, are also a significant concern. From this standpoint, the resources and efforts required for renaming could be better allocated to other initiatives that have a more direct and positive impact on people’s lives.
It’s often argued that such decisions should reflect the priorities of the broader community. This viewpoint emphasizes the importance of public consultation and engagement in determining whether such changes are in line with the public interest and community values.
Some argue that the names of streets and monuments, even if associated with controversial figures, are part of a collective historical memory. Changing these names could be seen as altering the shared landscape of memory that connects present communities to their past.
The question of where to stop when reassessing historical figures is a notable concern. If the criteria for renaming or removal are based on modern ethical standards, many historical figures could fall short, leading to extensive changes that some might find excessive or unnecessary.
It’s important to recognize that this is one perspective among many in a complex and multifaceted debate. Different individuals and communities may have varying views on the importance and impact of such changes, reflecting a diverse range of experiences and historical understandings.
We understand the the controversy behind the name Dundas but the issue is where does it stop? If you have to rename and tear down every single historic figure because they lived in a separate era of segregation and pro slavery, you’d have a lot of tearing down to do.
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A Quick Summary from Toronto City Council – Sankofa Square
Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square, a significant landmark and public space in the city, is set to be renamed to “Sankofa Square” as part of a broader initiative by the City of Toronto to address historical injustices and promote inclusivity. This decision was made by the Toronto City Council following two years of consultations, research, and discussions led by the City’s Recognition Review Community Advisory Committee (CAC).
The term “Sankofa” originates from Ghana and symbolizes the importance of reflecting on and learning from the past to build a better future. This name change is a step towards acknowledging and confronting the city’s history, including the impacts of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and anti-Black racism. Mayor Olivia Chow emphasized this renaming as part of the city’s commitment to truth, reconciliation, and justice.
The renaming process for the square, along with two subway stations (Dundas Station and Dundas West Station), and the Jane/Dundas Public Library, is scheduled to begin in 2024. The Dundas subway station is proposed to be renamed “TMU Station” (Toronto Metropolitan University) by the end of 2024, and the Dundas West Station renaming will follow a consultation with the Recognition Review Community Advisory Committee, aiming for completion by 2025.
This initiative also includes a public education campaign to be launched between 2024 and 2025, focusing on the impact of the Transatlantic slave trade and slavery. The estimated net cost of the renaming project is around $700,000. The decision to rename these assets was part of a response to an online petition calling for the renaming of Dundas Street, due to its namesake, Henry Dundas, and his alleged role in delaying the abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
The cost implications of these changes have been a point of discussion, especially in the context of the city’s financial challenges. While the renaming of Yonge-Dundas Square and the associated assets is proceeding, the broader plan to rename Dundas Street itself, estimated to cost between $11.3 to $12.7 million, has been paused. This decision reflects the significant number of businesses and residents along Dundas Street who would be affected by such a change.
Overall, the renaming of Yonge-Dundas Square to Sankofa Square and the associated changes represent a significant step by the City of Toronto in its efforts to promote a more inclusive and equitable environment, while also acknowledging and addressing historical injustices.
Cachet Ladies says leave sleeping dog lies, let people accept the past, and stop wasting crucial city funds on items that don’t actually change anything or anyones life for the better.
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