‘Bring the change’: Local activist calls for Whitby to rename Dundas Street

Click to play video: 'Whitby grapples with renaming Dundas Street' Whitby grapples with renaming Dundas Street
Following Toronto's decision to rename one of its major streets due to ties to the slave trade, there are calls from community activists in Whitby to do the same. Brittany Rosen reports. – Aug 5, 2021

Following Toronto’s decision to rename one of its major streets, there are calls to do the same in Whitby.

Dundas Street is currently splashed across countless signs and businesses in the heart of the municipality’s downtown. However, local business owner and anti-racism activist Greg Frankson says the street name represents a legacy undeserving of the honour it currently holds.

“I’m descended from Jamaican slaves,” Frankson said.

“So for me, when I see Henry Dundas, I’m reminded of the guy that was the great delayer.”

Read more: Toronto city council approves renaming Dundas Street due to namesake’s connection to slavery

Henry Dundas, for whom the street is named, was an 18th-century politician tied to a 15-year delay of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.

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Frankson’s call to rename the street comes after Toronto city council voted in favour of the name change last month. A report released by the city highlighted Dundas’s role in the subjugation of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

The estimated $6-million decision will replace all signage with a new name in the years to come.

Locally, Whitby councillors say the decision to rename Dundas Street should be left in the hands of residents and business owners.

Click to play video: 'Done with Dundas: Toronto to remove racist figure’s name from streets, infrastructure' Done with Dundas: Toronto to remove racist figure’s name from streets, infrastructure
Done with Dundas: Toronto to remove racist figure’s name from streets, infrastructure – Jul 15, 2021

“While there is no official proposal or campaign to rename Dundas Street in Whitby that we are aware of, I can tell you that we would review any proposal that is brought forward,” in a statement, Deputy Mayor Chris Leahy told Global News in a statement.

“Examining any cost implications both to the community and local businesses would be part of this review.”

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Frankson expects councillors to bring the issue forward for debate in the fall, while making good on their ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion.

“Bring the change, make the tough choice and bring the majority along with you,” Frankson said.

“If you don’t do that, then you have been exposed as being completely hypocritical in making diversity and inclusion a priority of this town.”

Read more: Reaction to Toronto city council’s decision to oust ‘Dundas’ name

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