Yonge-Dundas Square, located in the heart of Toronto, stands as a vibrant urban hub and a symbol of the city’s energy and diversity. However, its namesake, Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville, is a figure whose legacy is not so positive, leading to a review of the Square’s name, which will be officially changed later this year.
The Call for Change
In recent years, there has been a growing movement to reassess historical figures and their associations with class-based inequity, racial inequity, colonialism, and human rights abuses. In this context, Henry Dundas’s legacy came under scrutiny, and there were calls for renaming places and landmarks named after him, including Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto.
Finally, on December 14th, 2023, Toronto’s city council voted to officially rename the square to Sankofa Square. The word ‘Sankofa’ originates in Ghana and has a complex meaning. While one could loosely summarize it to mean “reconciliation” or “to retrieve”, the more culturally relevant translation refers to the act of reflection upon past actions and decisions, and using the lessons learned to move forward together and in a good way.
In addition to Sankofa Square, Toronto’s city council has also voted to rename two TTC subway stations and a public library that carry the same name. Dundas Street itself may also be reviewed for a name change in the future.
While some may not see the importance of these gestures, the renaming of such landmarks represents an important step towards acknowledging past injustices and striving for a more equitable future, without forgetting the past.
Visit Sankofa Square
Sankofa Square remains an important landmark for the city of Toronto, holding tonnes of festivals, markets, classes, art exhibitions, concerts and cultural events every year, through all seasons. New events for 2024 will be announced soon – you can also check out their events calendar to get a full list of everything going on!
Sankofa Square is located a convenient 3-minute walk from Pantages Hotel, making us your perfect destination to explore this iconic Toronto landmark.