Let's Rename
Dundas Street

The City of Toronto recommends renaming

Dundas Street.

Learn why, and how you can
support renaming.

NEW! The City of Toronto has released its report: A New Commemorative Framework for the City of Toronto's Public Spaces! We need you write your city councillor to support this ground-breaking policy, that will positiviely change the way our city remembers

Click "Get Involved" to learn how! It's Easy! 

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Our Story

In the summer of 2020, a petition was launched calling on the City of Toronto to begin a public, transparent, and inclusive process to rename Dundas Street over the role of its namesake (Henry Dundas, First Viscount Melville) in obstructing the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.*

 

The petition was created in solidarity with longstanding demands by Black and Indigenous communities and their allies for governments and institutions to address systemic racism, colonial violence, and white supremacy embedded within statues, monuments, and street and place names. These demands took on a greater urgency following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, and in the context of the global protests that followed this horrific crime.

In Bristol, UK, people toppled a statue of enslaver Edward Colston. In Montreal, a statue of Canadian Prime Minister John A. MacDonald was decapitated. In Toronto, monuments to King Edward VII, MacDonald, and Egerton Ryerson were covered in pink paint.

These actions, and others like them, called attention to the immediate need for Torontonians to address how racism is reflected and celebrated in our city. More recently, the discovery of 215 children buried in an unmarked grave at Kamloops Indian Residential School in Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation territory has furthered the urgency of this undertaking.

To date, the petition to rename Dundas Street has garnered over 14,500 signatures and has resulted in the City of Toronto beginning a process that seeks not only to reconsider the Dundas name, but includes a broader review of the names of all municipal assets, awards, and honourifics. Additionally, and most importantly, the City has begun developing a new community-informed framework for future commemoration.


Learn more about the impact of the "Let's Rename Dundas Street" petition and what Toronto is doing about it.

View the original "Let's Rename Dundas Street" Petition.

 

Get Involved

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Photo of Monument Lab project at City Hall, Monument Lab helped develop the new commemorative framework through creative participation.

NEW! - JULY 2022

The City of Toronto has released its report A New Commemorative Framework for the City of Toronto's Public Spaces (Click the link to read it!) . This groundbreaking report is the latest positive outcome from the successful campaign to rename Dundas Street! 

Not only does the report recommend centring the voices of Black, Indigenous and other equity-deserving communities, it also makes space for traditional knowledge and prioritizes telling the often overlooked stories of our city's past. 

We need you to write your city councillor and tell them to support this report which builds on Toronto's reputation for world leading public policy. 

Click HERE to find out how to write your own letter, or use our handy form letter provided! Letters should be sent in advance of the JULY 19th City Council Meeting!

READ THE REPORT & ALL ATTACHMENTS 

Attachment 1 - City of Toronto Guiding Principles for Commemoration
(http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2022/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-228154.pdf)
Attachment 2 - City of Toronto Street Naming Policy
(http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2022/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-228155.pdf)
Attachment 3 - Revised City of Toronto Property Naming Policy
(http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2022/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-228156.pdf)
Attachment 4 - Revised City of Toronto Public Art and Monument Donations Policy
(http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2022/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-228157.pdf)
Attachment 5 - Final Report on Consultations from Monumental Projects
(http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2022/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-228158.pdf)
Attachment 6 - Final Report on Consultations from Monument Lab
(http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2022/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-228159.pdf)

 

Get the Facts

Who was Henry Dundas?

Why does Toronto have a street named for him?

Learn about the City of Toronto's review process, and why renaming is important.

 

Address the

Executive

Committee is the ONLY place where citizens can directly address their elected officials in either spoken or written form.

Find out how you can be a part of the public record by speaking or writing to the Executive Committee.

Write to Your Councillor

Make sure your City Councillor knows that you support renaming Dundas Street! 

Write in your own words, or use the handy template we've created for you. 

Need help finding your City Councillor? Click the button and we'll do it for you!

Sign a Letter

Are you a Community Leader, Indigenous Elder, Knowledge Keeper, Academic, Scholar, Artist, PhD or Graduate Student? 


Sign this Open Letter to be read at City Council.

Who was Dundas? Why Rename?

 
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Portrait of Viscount Melville, Sir Henry Raeburn. Oil on Canvas. 1802. Collection of the Tate Britain

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Statue of Egerton Ryerson, one of the architects of Canada's residential school system, at X University in Toronto hours before it was torn down.

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Who was Henry Dundas?

Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville (1742–1811), was a prominent Scottish lawyer and member of the UK Parliament. He held several high-profile cabinet positions, including Home Secretary and Secretary of War. In the former capacity he worked in concert with West Indian interests to obstruct the abolition of trafficking in enslaved persons.
 

Why does Toronto have a Dundas Street?

Dundas Street was named by Lt. Governor John Graves Simcoe, who made a policy of replacing Indigenous place names with what he felt were more appropriate British names. This is why Toronto was once called York. Like many colonial administrators, Simcoe chose these names from the powerful people and places of his home country.

What does the City of Toronto's staff recommend?

The City of Toronto recommends renaming Dundas Street. 

As part of the review process in response to the Dundas Street petition, City Staff have undertaken substantial consultation with leading scholarly voices to reach their most recent conclusions regarding Dundas and his role in obstructing abolition

We invite you to read the conclusions of City staff, and to visit the official City of Toronto Recognition Review website. You can also find an extensive reading list compiled by City staff and the Toronto Public Library. Highlights of this reading list include Dr. Melanie Newton's Henry Dundas: Empire and Genocide and Dr. Stephen Mullen's forthcoming Henry Dundas: a 'great delayer' of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The University of Edinburgh has also archived a fascinating discussion, Historians on Dundas and Slavery, which you can watch too.

Why is renaming important?

"The horrific discovery of 215 children buried in an unmarked grave at Kamloops Indian Residential School in Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation territory, has renewed nationwide debate about statues and place names honouring historic figures who contributed to colonialism." –City of Toronto email, June 7, 2021

 

These issues have been raised by Black, Indigenous, and other racialized peoples multiple times, over many decades. Recent examples of this activism include the efforts of the Wreckonciliation student group at X University and artistic inventions by Black Lives Matter in Toronto last summer.

These events have clearly illustrated that statues, street names, and commemorative infrastructure that celebrate the perpetrators of slavery, colonialism, and cultural genocide have a real and tangible impact on the lived experiences of communities of colour and Black and Indigenous communities who are forced to interact with them on a daily basis. We, as a city, have a duty to listen to the voices calling for their removal and act accordingly.

 

Renaming Dundas Street is an important step in addressing the many ways that systemic racism and colonial violence are embedded in the fabric of the City of Toronto. 

Artistic Intervention at  the Equestrian Statue of  King Edward VII, Queens Park, Toronto

 

Addressing the Executive Committee

Whether you are a “deputation debutant” or an “experienced expositor,” you should familiarize yourself with the purpose, members, and procedures of the City Council Executive Committee and expectations toward speakers. Speaking on behalf of an organization or yourself is known as "making a deputation." Deputations are part of the public record. 

IF YOU DO NOT FEEL COMFORTABLE  WITH YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION BEING A PART OF THE OFFICIAL RECORD, THIS IS NOT A GOOD OPTION FOR YOU. Instead, write to your City Councillor!

What is the Executive Committee?

The Executive Committee makes recommendations on Council's strategic policy and priorities, governance policy and structure, financial planning and budgeting, fiscal policy including revenue and tax policies, intergovernmental and international relations, Council and its operations, and human resources and labour relations. –City of Toronto Website

 

Who is the Executive Committee?

The current Toronto City Council Executive Committee is: 

Paul AinslieAna Bailão, Gary Crawford, Jennifer McKelvie, Denzil Minnan-Wong, 

James Pasternak, Michael Thompson, John Tory (Chair) 

How to Make a Deputation

For information on how to submit your comments or to sign up to speak (virtually) to the Executive Committee, please follow the procedures outlined at: https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/tmmis/have-your-say.htm

 

For advice on what to include in your written comments or oral deputation, Toronto Youth Food Policy has assembled this handy guide here:

https://tyfpc.ca/whatwedo/advocacytoolkit/cityofficials/

 

Additionally, we'd suggest including statements on how "Option 4: Renaming all civic assets bearing the Dundas name," would impact you personally, and how you feel it would benefit the city.


If you are speaking, make sure you also submit a written copy of your remarks to the Executive Clerk.

 

Write Your City Councillor

One of the easiest ways to participate in local affairs is to write to your City Councillor and tell them how you feel about an issue. 

We encourage you to write your City Councillor to share your support for renaming Dundas Street and the new commemorative framework for the city of Toronto. 

Don't know who your City Councillor is, or their email address?? 

Use this handy site to find out!

Need some tips for your letter? Check out this handy site from the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council 

You can also use this form letter we've created. Look to the right, it's under the headline "Email Template".

Simply copy the text by highlighting it and clicking CTRL+C (PC) or COMMAND+C (Mac)

and paste it in your document!

 

OR

 

Download a .docx or PDF version of the  template.

Letters should be sent in advance of the

JULY 19th, 2022 City Council Meeting!

We thank you in advance for your support!

Letter Writing Tips

If you are writing your own letter to your councillor, follow these helpful tips from the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council to make sure your letter is effective!

  • Include your contact information. This indicates to your City Councillor that you are a constituent in their ward.

  • Be concise. Written communication should be no longer than one page. 

  • Be clear. 

  • Be personal. 

  • Be assertive. 

  • Be professional. 

  • Follow up. 

  • Stay organized.

For more info visit: https://tyfpc.ca/whatwedo/advocacytoolkit/cityofficials/

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Email Template

YOUR NAME HERE
YOUR ADDRESS HERE
YOUR CITY HERE

YOUR POSTAL CODE HERE

THE DATE HERE

Dear Councillor, 

 

I am writing to you today to support the recommendations included in the report "A New Commemorative Framework for the City of Toronto's Public Spaces”. 

 

This document builds on Toronto's world-leading reputation for developing public policy that celebrates diversity, equity and inclusion. 

 

The recommendations and guiding principles of this report prioritize the voices of Black, Indigenous and other equity-deserving communities, who have too often been excluded from commemoration. They also make room for traditional knowledge, community insights, and culturally specific memory practices in municipal policy. 

 

As we have seen in the campaign to rename Dundas Street and, as this report concludes, representation in public space matters. I strongly encourage you, as my elected representative, to support the adoption of this report by Toronto City Council. 

 

Together we can build a city that lives up to its motto of "Diversity, Our Strength." 

 

Sincerely, 

 

YOUR NAME HERE

 

Sign Our Open Letter

 THIS SECTION IS CLOSED FOR SUBMISSIONS

Are you a Community Leader, Indigenous Elder, Knowledge Keeper, Academic, Scholar, Artist, or PhD or Graduate Student? 

If so, you likely understand the impact and recognize the importance of the decision Toronto is set to undertake.

 

How City Council responds to the findings of City staff regarding Dundas Street will have significant impact on other jurisdictions considering similar requests. This is why it is important that Toronto's Mayor and City Councillors understand that the world is looking to them to show leadership on addressing the ways that white supremacy, racism, and colonial violence are present in the urban landscape.

In order to demonstrate this, we've created an open letter that you can sign and easily share with your friends, colleagues and networks. Please consider doing so today! The shareable link is here: https://forms.gle/AQqyHAfVC9nZ86HC6

Please note that a valid email address is required for verification purposes. Email addresses will not be published or sold to third parties, and signatories will not be contacted except to update them on the outcome and impact of their contributions.

 


 

List of Signatories

Andrew Lochhead, PhD Student, X University

Audra Williams, Toronto

Diana Chan McNally, Toronto Drop In Network

James MacFarlane, Toronto

Amanda Merpaw, OISE, University of Toronto

Rad Popovic, Toronto

Dr. Lorraine York, McMaster University

Laura Scrimshaw, Toronto

Melanie Noble, Toronto

Sahana Gunaratnam, Toronto

Paige Wilson, MSc Student, University of Northern BC

Simone Honkanen Otis, Toronto

David Plowman, Artist/Producer, Toronto

William Taylor, Toronto

Thomas Aman, Artist, Toronto

Darren Reinhart, Cultural Worker/Dundas St. Resident

Dr. Ross Arnold, UCLA

Sibat Anam, McGill University

Brent Alexander, Coordinator, Glen Rhodes Food Bank

Stacy Gardner, Writer, Local Immigration Partnership

Prof. Stephanie Bunclark, Okanagan College

An G, Hospital Worker

Crystal Hawk M.Ed., Toronto

Thomas L. Colford,  Actor, Toronto

Prof. Charles C. Dyer, University of Toronto

Christian Beermann, Sociologist, Univ. of Toronto

Molly Johnson, Artist, Toronto

Judy Land, Bloordale

tamara lee, Baby Point

Nathan Barnett, Toronto

Mark Zurawinski

Kiri Chan, Engineer, Toronto

Dr. Vanessa Godden, Artist/Curator Univ. of Toronto

Sarah Cullen, Artist, Mnissing 

Samuel La France, Arts Admin, Toronto

keiko Hart, Artist, Toronto

Kevin Edmonds Ph.D, Caribbean Studies, U. of Toronto

denisha black, Toronto

Tereza Coutinho, West End, Toronto

Benjamin Dickerson, Guest  

Robert Lukacs MSc., University of Toronto

Dr. Thembi Soddell, Artist/Academic, Australia

Arthi Vivekanandan HBSc, University of Toronto

Jessica Pinney, RMIT School of Art

Brigita Gedgaudas, Lithuania

Patti Kastanias, NP, Toronto

Mani Mazinani, Artist

Christopher Tsang, Student, Wilfred Laurier University

Elizabeth Page-Gould, Assoc. Prof, U of Toronto

Brett Story, Artist, X University

James Knott

Mohit Kumar Mehta

Eliza Brandy, Archaeologist, Toronto

Kaeden O'Donnell, Church-Wellesley

Rachel DiSaia, Toronto

Laurie Stewart, Toronto

Kamini Murthy-Korteweg, Creative Destruction Lab

Karen Scora, Artist, Toronto

Gerry Smith, Artist, Toronto

Emily McCutcheon, Author

Tabitha Baumander, Toronto

Dr. Jeremiah Garsha, UK

Kathleen Grzybowski, Toronto

Prof. Blake Fitzpatrick, X University

Ms. Linda Sawka, Scarborough-Agincourt

Carly Friesen, Toronto

Noor Alé, Curator, Visual Arts Centre, Clarington

Jen Castro, Toronto

Carmelle Mohr, PhD Student, Pres. Scholar, UCBerkely

Elmer Bagares, Dundas Street Resident

Peter Morris, Artist, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty

Christopher Douglas, Toronto

Jonathan Hutchinson, Afro Caribbean Community

Zoe Orion, Toronto

Kristin Basmadjian, Toronto Downtown

Dr. Sarah May, Dept. History, Swansea University, Wales

Tasman Richardson, Artist, Toronto

Anna Synenko, Writer

Serena Stucke, Artist, New York City

Anne Bourne, Artist, Toronto

Sidi Chen, Artist, Chinatown, Vancouver

Christopher Willes, Artist & Cultural Worker, Public Recordings

Alexander Angus McKay, Artist, Windsor, Ontario

Holly Timpener, Artist, Montreal

Miranda Black MASc, Artist, Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte

Bill Burns, Artist, Toronto

Natalya Androsova Ph.D, Author, X University

Dr. Chris Glover, Canada

Nicole Nigro, Artist

Florencia Berinstein, Toronto

Sheri Nault, Artist, Metis

Layne Hinton, Artist/Curator, ArtSpin

Heather-Dawn Messias, Parent/Writer, Black Citizen

Dr. Rebekah Farrugia, Oakland University, Michigan

Fan Wu, Artist, Art Metropole

Rebecca Taylor, Artist, Dundas, Ontario

Virginia Green, Artist, Tsalagi Seminole

Dr. Luis-Manuel Garcia Mispireta, University of Birmingham, UK

Grandmother Ingrid Mayrhofer, Artist

Sean Meades, Director NORDIK Institute, Lecturer, Algoma U.

Rowena Katigbak, Artist, Filipina/o/x Community

June Pak, Artist & Educator, University of Toronto

Dr. Clelia Rodriguez, University of Toronto

Alisa Wing, Leslieville

Niloo Inalouei, Artist, Iranian-Canadian Community

Julie E René de Cotret, Artist/Curator, Franco-Ontarien

Dr. Stephanie Yorke, Canada

Brian Postalian, Theatre Artist

Jackie Timpener, Artist, Toronto

Brian McLachlan, Toronto

Milena Zasadzien, Senior City Planner, City of Los Angeles

Alana Bartol, Artist/Faculty, Alberta University of the Arts

Earl Miller, Writer/Editor, Toronto

Hannah Cheesman, Toronto

Signe Emdal, Artist, Denmark

Rev. Carrie Gates, Treaty 6 Territory

Assoc. Prof. Erika Supria Honisch, Stonybrook University

Assoc. Prof. Nerissa S. Balce, SUNY Stonybrook

Heather Jane, Parkdale

Tobaron Waxman, Intergenerational LGBT Artist Residency

Miggy Esteban, Ph.D Student, Social Justice Ed. U of T.

Eva Kolcze, Artist, Toronto

Rui Pires, Toronto

Elaine Cagulada, Social Justice Ed, U of T

JP King, Educator

Shannon Rae Stratton

Steven Richman, Teacher, Artist, Community Organizer

Kelly Dyment, Teacher

Jesselyn Dungo, TDSB

Jacqueline St.Pierre, Metis of Upper Detroit River/ Apprentice and Helper to Elder Isabelle Meawasige Serpent River FN

Judy Major-Girardin, Artist, McMaster University

Esther Phua

nic cooper, Artist

Rachel Prideaux, Canada

Lanrick Benett Jr. Toronto Danforth

Andrea Slavik, Artist/Educator, Windsor

Dr. Su Yang, University of Melbourne, Australia

Dr. Kimberly Baltzer-Jaray, Kings University College, London, ON

Carla Dew, Kings University College, London, ON

Merel Zwarts, Artist, The Netherlands, (Friend of Toronto)

Timothy Long, Artist/Musician, Muscogee, Thlopthlocco, Choctaw

Stacey Van Riek, Social Work Student, London, ON

Elinor Whidden, Artist, Toronto

Artist Eugenio Salas, Latinx

Dr. Rob Luzecky, Purdue University

Myung-Sun Kim, Artist
Rui Pimenta, Arts Worker

Lori Girvan

Leena Raudvee, Artist, Pillory

Professor Corinne Fowler, University of Leicester, UK

Sameer Farooq, Artist

Lynne TevenSky, Citizen-at-Large, P.A.R.C.

 

Media Coverage

The campaign to rename Dundas Street has received substantial media coverage both in Canada and around the world.

It has even been featured in a BBC Scotland documentary film. Click on the news outlet logos to view select articles, videos, and audio files.


 

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