Decolonize and Rename the City of Vaughan
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The City of Vaughan was named after Benjamin Vaughan, a well-known politician and enslaver. Benjamin Vaughan was a racialist that viewed Black bodies as chattel, or property, that could be owned, and that type of hatred has no place in our community. He was a part of the slavocracy, and therefore was involved in the unfair, inhumane treatment of hundreds of people and the larger system of Trans-Atlantic slavery. He has directly contributed to the racial discrimination and injustice against Black people that has occurred for centuries and continues to this day. It is unfortunate that an entire city keeps his legacy alive and even has a local holiday, August 3rd, to commemorate "Benjamin Vaughan Day".
Behind this name and hidden deep in Canada’s history is a legacy of anti-Blackness that has been left unaddressed and prevalent for years. Present-day Canada came about through genocide and slavery, just as America did, but we’ve done a better job at covering it up. We urge you to look into slavery in Canada, the originally Black settlement of Priceville, the destruction of Africville, and the gentrification/“revitalization” of Regent Park. All of these individual instances are part of a greater system of anti-Blackness that we need to dismantle. These cases show the erasure and stigmatization of Black people simultaneously as we parade “multiculturalism” and democratic values.
In creating this legacy, the City of Vaughan has never acknowledged the sinister history behind the namesake and has painted Vaughan as a "highly regarded British Diplomat". We are calling for the Mayor, Members of Parliament, and City Councillors to make a statement on the full story of Benjamin Vaughan and to change the name of the city. If we do not make this change, we are allowing this part of history to be swept under the rug and will continue to honour and reward the legacy of someone who has dehumanized Black people. It is suggested that the new name is changed back to the original title given by the Indigenous tribes (the Mississaugas, Anishinaabek, Huron-Wendat, Métis, and more) who lived on the land before us or a name that commemorates a notable member of these Indigenous communities.
This city is no longer what it once used to be. We are diverse and the commonalities that unite us should be equitable and inclusive. More than half of the city is made up of people who have immigrated to Canada from nations all over the world. The name of our city should be reflective of the people that live in it and should be the namesake of someone who has helped the people. Please sign our petition to support this change and be on the right side of history.
To learn more about the history of the city, please refer to the following links:
- City of Vaughan History Directory - https://www.vaughan.ca/services/vaughan_archives/historyofvaughan/Pages/default.aspx
- Archeological History - https://www.vaughan.ca/services/vaughan_archives/historyofvaughan/Pages/Archaeological-History.aspx
- Benjamin Vaughan - https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/person/view/45943
- Benjamin Vaughan Day - https://www.vaughan.ca/news/Pages/Celebrating-Benjamin-Vaughan-Day.aspx
For email/letter templates and more information, please refer to @whois_benjaminvaughan on Instagram (www.instagram.com/whois_benjaminvaughan/ & https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_cOXKSSbDjnx6j6Xwl7WD3-h5BzKyP1W3tdSiTCcBQ8/mobilebasic
- Hyman, I., Meinhard, A., Shields, J. (2011). The Role of Multiculturalism Policy in Addressing Social Inclusion Processes in Canada. Ryerson University. Toronto. Retrieved from https://digital.library.ryerson.ca/islandora/object/RULA%3A7402/datastream/OBJ/download/The_role_of_multiculturalism_policy_in_addressing_social_inclusion_processes_in_Canada.pdf
- Statistics Canada. (2017). Vaughan, CY [Census subdivision], Ontario and Ontario [Province] (table). Retrieved from: https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/dp-pd/prof/index.cfm?Lang=E
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