Mayor Chow charging ahead with renaming of Dundas Square

The board overseeing the square estimates the total costs to be close to $1 million.

Mayor Chow charging ahead with renaming of Dundas Square
The Canadian Press / Arlyn McAdorey and JHVEPhoto - stock.adobe.com
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Toronto will move forward with plans to rename Yonge-Dundas Square following a heated meeting with Mayor Olivia Chow's executive committee.

Chow and her supporters voted unanimously to move forward with the proposal to erase the name of Henry Dundas, a Scottish politician and abolitionist who is alleged by some to have delayed abolition in the 18th century.

"This is a good news story. This is a good day," said Coun. Chris Moise.

The name will be changed to Sankofa Square, a Ghanaian word that has its own roots in slavery.

The word comes from the Twi language of the Akan people. Those who coined the term were active participants in the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

"The Akan-controlled Asante Empire, which held power at the height of the global slave trade in the 18th and 19th centuries, was, in fact, an indispensable supplier of Black slaves to British and Dutch traders," reports the National Post.


Although the council approved the renaming in a December vote of 19 to 2, the report presented to the committee provided an updated cost estimate for branding, signage, and other necessary work.

The board overseeing the square estimates the total costs to be close to $1 million, depending on the scope of related celebration activities, signage, and other factors. Approximately $335,000 has been allocated for signage and a marketing campaign, funded through Section 37 charges levied on developments.

20 members of the public who spoke to the committee on Tuesday supported the renaming, stating it was a fitting way to address the harms caused by the transatlantic slave trade.

However, some opposed the costs and argued that historical records show Henry Dundas, a Scottish parliamentarian, supported abolition. They also criticized the city for not adequately consulting the public.

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