On June 12, I joined Councillor Mike Layton along with Councillors Perks, Cressy, and Fletcher, in submitting a letter to City Manager Chris Murray, supporting the call to begin a public process to review and rename Dundas Street.
Attn: Chris Murray
City Manager – City of Toronto
4th Floor, East Tower, City Hall
June 12, 2020
To: City Manager Chris Murray
Re: Support for a public process to review and rename Dundas Street
We, the undersigned, have heard from many residents across the City of Toronto who are calling on City Council to rename Dundas Street due to the fact that the street’s namesake, Scottish politician Henry Dundas, was actively involved in opposing the abolition of slavery.
Anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism is real and pervasive in our City, and as a society we must do, and demand, better. There are signs of historic racism on streets, buildings and monuments all across Toronto. The process of renaming is one important step we can take toward challenging the systemic institutionalized racism in Toronto.
As Councillors who represent the neighbourhoods that include a portion of Dundas Street, we support this call to begin a public process to review this route. Together, we support Mayor Tory’s call for a process to be led by your office. We also think it’s important that this be done in partnership with staff within the Confronting Anti-Black Racism Unit and the Indigenous Affairs Office, and in consultation with Black-lead organizations and historical societies.
We will ask that you consider renaming efforts that have happened in Toronto and to other jurisdictions for examples where renaming has occurred, and develop a thoughtful and fulsome process to inform the advice that will guide Council’s decision-making.
This process has happened in cities and countries around the world, whether in the aftermath of apartheid in South Africa, or more recently at Yale University regarding Calhoun College. South Africa underwent a renaming process of public places post-apartheid. More recently, in 2016, Yale University underwent a thorough process which ultimately led to changing the name of Calhoun College, as they found that John C. Calhoun’s legacy as a white supremacist and a national leader who passionately promoted slavery as a ‘positive good’ fundamentally conflicted with Yale’s mission and values.
We are living in a time period that people will talk about for ages, and the City of Toronto must be shown to be a leader in challenging and correcting the institutionalized racism that exists. The renaming of Dundas Street is an important and symbolic commitment to righting the wrongs against Indigenous and Black people in Toronto, but we as Councillors also want to reaffirm our commitment to the implementation of the recommendations in Canada’s Truth & Reconciliation Call to Action and the Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism.
Councillor Gord Perks
Ward 4, Parkdale-High Park
Councillor Joe Cressy
Ward 10, Spadina-Fort York
Councillor Mike Layton
Ward 11, University-Rosedale
Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam
Ward 13, Toronto Centre
Councillor Paula Fletcher
Ward 14, Toronto-Danforth