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Shelburne Street Names Will Honour Black & Indigenous Past

Shelburne Street Names Will Honour Black & Indigenous

“Although this is a small step, it is indeed a step forward,” affirmed Shelburne’s Councillor Lindsay Wegener.

At the November 23rd Shelburne Council meeting, Wegener moved a motion pertaining to the Fieldgate development in the east-end of Shelburne, currently in its planning stages. It directs town staff to work within the street name policy and with Fieldgate to encompass inclusive street names in the new section. These names would be representative of, but not limited to, those in Dufferin County’s Black and Indigenous Community History. The motion would also have staff review the current street naming policy and report back to the council with any suggestions to “meet the inclusive vision of both the Anti-Racism Task Force and council’s strategic plan”.

Councillor Wegener declared that inclusive street names would ensure that the Town of Shelburne honours and recognizes the changing diversity of the town, and would set an example for others to follow. When presenting the notice of motion at the November 9th meeting of Shelburne Council, Wegener also referenced the Anti-Black Racism, Racism, and Discrimination Task Force that was recently formed in Shelburne and that this would be a “small step” on acting upon their recommendations.

On November 23rd, Deputy Mayor Steve Anderson seconded Councillor Wegener’s motion. He also brought forth three notices of motion related to advice provided by the Anti-Racism Task Force, one of which required quick action.

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The first asked that the park in the Fieldgate Development be named after William and Mary Ghant. According to the Museum of Dufferin, the Ghants “are believed to be emancipated slaves who moved north to New York State and then came to Melancthon Township, via Toronto, around 1849 with their two sons.” William owned over 300 acres of farmland, with the family becoming influential farmers in the area, raising oats, peas, and barley. Furthermore, the Ghant family would tap an average of 250 trees during the maple syrup and sugar season. William and Mary grew their family by five more children and one granddaughter before moving to Bruce County after 1876 to establish several more family farms.

Another motion would approve the naming of the community garden at Fiddle Park after the No. 2 Construction Battalion Members, the first Black military unit in Canadian history, and that a plaque be installed onsite. Deputy Mayor Anderson’s notice of motion states that the Town of Shelburne has a long-standing history of recognizing and honouring military service.

And a third asked that council add four Indigenous street names for the Fieldgate Homes development. The proposed street names, supported by the Dufferin County Resource Circle, were Potawatomi, Chippewa, Ojibway and Anishinaabe. Steve Wever, the planner for the Town of Shelburne, emphasized the importance of receiving sign-off from the appropriate groups. He also explained how there has been more than one iteration of the street name plan to ensure that it is correctly and respectfully implemented. Deputy Mayor Anderson intimated that Fieldgate is in full support of the street signs representing Indigenous history.

Mayor Wade Mills mentioned that a list of Fieldgate’s proposed street names will be presented at the council’s next meeting on December 14th for their consideration and approval. To have the four submitted names added in time, the town’s clerk, Jennifer Willoughby, suggested that this particular motion be incorporated into Councillor Wegener’s through amendment.

Councillor Wegener was supportive of the amendment. Subsequently, the motion passed.

Deputy Mayor Anderson commended Wegener “for her commitment to transformative change, and to moving beyond words to action.”

“It’s important to not only have a difficult conversation on racism, but to act on those conversations. This motion speaks to that,” Councillor Wegener asserted.

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