Ontario town Vaughan petitioned for name change due to racist past

An online petition is collecting signatures with the hopes of renaming the city of Vaughan, Ontario after complaints about the man it was named after.
Sam Edwards High Level, Alberta

An online petition is collecting signatures with the hopes of renaming the city of Vaughan, Ontario after complaints about the man it was named after,  reports CTV News.

The petition was launched to “honour the people who made a positive, meaningful impact on our community,” says Lindsay Kemble—the campaign creator.

The city’s website says it was named in honour of Benjamin Vaughan, a British diplomat and advocate for Canada when an amalgamation was proposed by the United States. Vaughan was also a co-negotiator in the Treaty of Paris.

Vaughan was reportedly against the emancipation of slaves and owned a number of plantations. He was a politician born in Jamaica and was even a friend of Benjamin Franklin.

The petition also calls for the renaming of the civic holiday named after Vaughan.

The August civic holiday was renamed as “Benjamin Vaughan Day” by Vaughan city council in 2013 to honour the “significant impact Benjamin Vaughan had on this community.”

“Our first request is that a new historical hero is recognized for our civic holiday this August 2020, instead of Benjamin Vaughan—a pro-slavery politician,” Kemble said.

“We'd like to see open dialogue and engagement with Vaughan citizens—particularly Black and Indigenous citizens whose lives are directly impacted by this issue—to determine who the new historical figure could be," wrote Kemble on the website.

Vaughan Mayor, Maurizio Bevilacqua on Monday released a statement saying that he has presented a resolution to council requesting a name change for the civic holiday.

“I know that the ongoing solidarity against racial injustice continues to be a fundamental priority for all Members of Council. We continue working closely with residents, community organizations, and other government levels to address the issue of anti-Black racism,” noted Bevilacqua.

The petition follows the growing popularity of the Black Lives Matter movement and anti-racism protests throughout North America and Europe. Many statues have recently been vandalized and defaced as protestors call for their removal.

Similar petitions are emerging in BC calling for the removal of the "Gassy Jack" statue and in Toronto requesting for the removal of a statue at Ryerson university and the renaming of Dundas St.

No motion has currently been submitted with intentions of changing the city’s name and Kimble has not yet been contacted by the city about her petition.

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Sam Edwards
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