Activists call for city of Kitchener to change its name due to racist history

The debate on changing the name of Kitchener is being revisited after a post by a Facebook user who says that many people are unaware of the name’s history.
Sam Edwards High Level, Alberta

The debate on changing the name of Kitchener, Ontario is being revisited after a post by a Facebook user who says that many people are unaware of the name’s history, reports CTV News.

During the First World War in 1916, the city was known as "Berlin" and voted for a new name.

One of the names for consideration was "Corona," but the city went with Kitchener after British General Horatio Herbert Kitchener.

"He was one of the most successful of the British generals against the Indigenous forces of Africa, India, and places like that in the time of the British Empire," noted Rych Mills, a local historian.

Kitchener’s face was on a recruitment poster due to his fame and success. Shortly before the vote was set to take place, Kitchener died.

"People love a military hero," said Mills. "That's the way of the world, whether we like it or not - we can't understand it now."

In Thomas’ Facebook post she writes, "there is no room in our city for hate and the name sure does have some heavy meaning behind it."

"We should be detaching ourselves from the atrocities committed through history but instead we are glorifying those responsible."

Thomas is asking her friends to express their concerns about the name to their municipal representatives.

"There's a lot of greys in history, and if you are going to do history in black and white, you might as well go back to school and start from the beginning, because it is not black and white," Mills said.

A City of Kitchener representative told CTV News in a statement that there are currently no plans to look into changing the city’s name.

"It is not surprising that recent world events have us contemplating the origin of our city's name," the statement reads. "While we in no way condone, diminish, or forget his actions, Kitchener has become so much more than its historic connection to a British field marshal."

"Our name is not a celebration of an individual leader's hurtful legacy."

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Sam Edwards
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