Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square to be renamed ‘Sankofa Square’

Toronto’s city council has decided to rename downtown Yonge-Dundas Square.

Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville

Last Thursday, Councillor Chris Moisie tabled a motion, with the Mayor’s support, to officially adopt the new name “Sankofa Square” for Yonge-Dundas Square by the end of the second quarter of 2024.

The city says “Sankofa Square” has been selected as the new name for Yonge-Dundas Square after two years of consultations, research and discussion.

In a written statement, the city notes that the term “Sankofa” originates in Ghana and refers to the act of reflecting on and reclaiming teachings from the past, which enables people to move forward together.

The city says its Yonge-Dundas Square Board will report to council in 2024 with details on the adoption of the new name and will also begin plans to rename other city assets named after Scottish politician Henry Dundas, including Dundas and Dundas West subway stations and the Jane/Dundas Public Library next year.

Chris Moisie

City council has also approved a motion to pause its 2021 decision to rename Dundas Street, a 23-kilometre thoroughfare.

Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville, was an active politician from 1770s to the early 1800s, when the British parliament was debating slavery abolition motions.

Dundas had called for the gradual abolition of the Atlantic slave trade while the abolitionists had sought its immediate end.

Sankofa symbol

Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow has voiced support for the renaming efforts, saying the city is “committed to acknowledging the impact of the transatlantic slave trade and slavery, while focusing on mitigating costs and impacts on residents and businesses.”

“The City of Toronto remains committed to confronting anti-Black racism, advancing truth, reconciliation and justice, and building a more inclusive and equitable City,” she wrote in a statement.