Toronto’s nearby Town of Whitby seems to have slipped under the radar of Dundas name change activists and petitioners.
“I am not aware of any proposal or campaign to rename Dundas Street [in Whitby],” Mayor Don Mitchell told Durham Post.
Asked if there is a related proposal – from council members or residents – that the council is studying, the mayor said: “I cannot speculate on what council might do but I am personally opposed to cancel culture and am proud to be Canadian and very lucky to live in the greatest country in the world.”
A representative of the Durham Black Accountability Coalition (DBAC) was not aware of any move to petition renaming of Dundas St in Whitby. “I don’t know if anyone on the DBAC team is taking action on this,” the representative told Durham Post.
Toronto City Council yesterday voted 17-7 to change the name of the street, the subway station, parks and other landmarks associated with the name of Henry Dundas, a Scottish politician who opposed and delayed Britain’s withdrawal from the slave trade in the late 18th century. Toronto residents started a petition in 2020 to change the name, and it gained wide traction and has been backed by Toronto Mayor John Tory. It was brought about as an indirect result of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis last summer.
Henry Dundas never visited Toronto.
Whitby celebrated Black History Month in February and will mark ‘International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition’ on August 23 this year.
In Toronto’s eastern adjoining Durham Region with Pickering, Ajax, Whitby, Oshawa and Clarington, only Whitby still retains the Dundas street name. In the rest of the communities, the name of the roadway is mostly King Street or Highway 2 [it is sometimes also referred to as Kingston Road or Old Kingston Road], and beyond Newtonville, to County Rd 2. Mississuaga, on the western border of Toronto, too has a Dundas St.
The Town of Whitby has joined other Durham municipalities – and the world – in raising its voice against racism following George Floyd’s death at the hands of police officer Derek Chauvin, and the resulting global outrage.
End of last September, it held its first webinar: Addressing Anti-Black Racism. It has set up a Whitby Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee (DIAC), and has marked June as the Pride Month, National Indigenous History Month and Black Music Month.
“As we reflect on recent events, we stand strong against anti-black, anti-indigenous and any form of racism. It has no place in our community or anywhere in the world. As a council, we continue to work with DIAC and other members of our community to support a safe and inclusive town for all,” Mayor Don Mitchell, said last June.