West-end councillor asks for systemic racism report, more inclusive street names
Ward 2 Coun. Fabio Costante wants the city to evaluate its hiring practices
A Windsor city councillor wants to look at more inclusive naming practices for streets and buildings.
Ward 2 Coun. Fabio Costante asked for a report to be prepared on systemic racism, during Monday's council meeting. He wants there to be an acknowledgement from the city of its historic and systemic racism.
"We understand that to move forward and promote equity and eliminate anti-racism requires reaching out to and hearing from the voices of those in our community and corporation most impacted by discrimination and racism."
Costante also wants city administration and the diversity advisory committee to look at hiring and advancement practices.
The ask comes after a Black historian spoke with CBC Windsor about street names — particularly in Sandwich Town — named after slave owners.
Askin, Labadie, Peter, Russell and Baby are all streets named after prominent figures in Windsor's history who also owned slaves at some point.
"What we accept, what we honour, who we choose to honour says a lot about what we value as a society and maybe it's time to take a look at some of those," said Irene Moore Davis, president of the Essex County Black Historical Research Society.
Moore Davis suggested that instead of renaming the streets, the city might consider an alternative route.
"It's better to educate people about the street names and the people and everyone who was involved — both the slave owners and the enslaved — and what their roles were and how those other individuals have been overlooked in the story of how this community was founded," said Moore Davis.
"It may be more constructive actually to leave the street names and focus on what's been excluded to date and what we can learn from that. It's all a conversation worth having."
Founder of The Bloomfield House in the city's west end and advocate within the city's Black community, Teajai Travis, said he was disturbed to learn Peter and Russell streets were named after a man who owned slaves.
"I'd like to see full acknowledgement of the damage that these monuments cause, the generational trauma that people have to experience on a day-to-day basis, being reminded of that oppressive legacy," he said to CBC Windsor Morning host Tony Doucette.
"Change the names of the streets."
Travis said the city needs to hire more people from Black and other marginalized communities so that decisions being made are fully inclusive.
"What I'm hopeful for is we can really move forward and see some material changes," he said. "It's a step in the right direction."