Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto has long been one of the city’s go-to tourist attractions, often compared to a mini-version of the much larger Times Square in New York.
However, the name will soon be a memory of the past, as city council has voted to rename it along with other landmarks holding the Dundas name due to its association with the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
Dundas street was originally named after Henry Dundas, a Scottish politician of the late 1700s to early 1800s, who introduced a motion to stall the abolition of slavery. However, there is still debate as to the intentions of this action.
Concerns grew during the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, leading to a petition of 14,000 signatures calling for the street to be renamed.
On December 14 2023, councillors voted 19-2 in favour of renaming the square to Sankofa Square, which originates from the Akan people of Ghana’s Twi language. Translated, ‘Sankofa’ means to “go back and get it”.
The move is also backed by Toronto mayor Olivia Chow, claiming the new name “enables us to move forward together”.
It is expected that the new name will be adopted by the end of 2024’s second quarter. The cost to rename the square is estimated at $2.7 million.
For now, Dundas street itself doesn’t have an ETA of a name change. Dundas subway stations and Jane/Dundas Library are also slated for a rename in time.