REACTIONS: Torontonians speak their minds on woke Yonge-Dundas square renaming

According to polls, 72% of Toronto residents disapprove of the iconic city landmark being renamed 'Sankofa Square' due to unfounded accusations of racism made against abolitionist historical figure Henry Dundas.

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Yesterday morning, in a 17-6 decision, the Toronto City Council voted to rename Yonge-Dundas Square "Sankofa Square."

The renaming project is motivated by claims that British abolitionist Henry Dundas, whom the iconic Toronto Dundas Street is named after, is guilty of the crime of attempting to abolish the slave trade too slowly.

Dundas had proposed a seven and half year gradual timeline for abolishing slavery in Britain, as motions for immediate abolishment were unable to get passed through the House of Lords, which at the time consisted of 40 “immediate” abolitionists, 85 anti-abolitionists, and 190 moderates. 

He also argued that a bill for immediate abolition would be contrary to the humanitarian goals of abolition as it would drive human trafficking underground, and planters would begin smuggling slaves from other sources.

The new name, "Sankofa," comes from the language of the Akan tribe of Ghana in Africa and is loosely translated to "go back and get it.” 

Interestingly enough, the Akan people have their own history of involvement in the transatlantic slave trade, as they sold African slaves from neighbouring tribes to Europeans.

Currently, Canada has a travel advisory to "exercise a high degree of caution" when visiting Ghana because of crime and terrorism risks.

According to City Council meetings, the cost of renaming Yonge-Dundas Square to Sankofa Square is an estimated $335,000, but the agency that runs the Square says that costs could soar up to $860,000.

The majority of Toronto residents disapprove of the name change, with 72% disapproval according to polling.

One lifelong Toronto resident named Daniel Tate presented a petition against the name change with over 30,000 signatures at City Council, but was shut down by City Councilors and even referred to as 'racist' in interviews by City Councillor Chris Moise following the meeting.

Mayor Olivia Chow has claimed that the renaming costs will be covered by corporate donors and not out of the City budget, but the city has yet to announce the allocation of the needed funds. We reached out to the City of Toronto with the following questions:

1. Have any corporations offered funding for the renaming project?
2. If so, how much money has been allocated?
3. If the city fails to acquire corporate sponsorship for the renaming project, will funds come from the city budget?
4. What is the maximum that the city is willing to pay out of taxpayer funds for this project?

No one from the city responded to the request for comment.

Rebel News ventured to Yonge-Dundas Square to speak to Toronto residents and find out whether or not they agreed with the decision to rename the iconic landmark.

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