Amherstburg council wants to sanitize town’s name
An Amherstburg Town Councillor would rather you think of a settlement in the woods instead of General Jeffrey Amherst when you hear the town’s name.
Councillor Patricia Simone plans to introduce a notice of motion at Monday night’s council meeting, calling on councillors to denounce the town’s namesake. She is not asking councillors to change the name of the town.
She points out Amherst was well known for his racist views against the Indigenous, even proposing weaponizing smallpox against them in the 18th Century.
“The Town of Amherstburg is an inclusive community that recognizes the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all persons to live in a climate of understanding and mutual respect,” read Simone’s notice of motion. “Therefore, be it resolved that the Council of the Town of Amherstburg recognize the controversial nature of this individual and denounce the statements and actions made by General Jeffrey Amherst.”
Simone’s motion said it is clear Amherst’s views do not reflect the town’s values, so she would like to go back to the root of the name, if not the person it was named after.
The etymological root of “Amherst” refers to a settlement amongst the woods, while “burg” means a “walled or defensive settlement.” Instead of referring to a shameful past, Simone hopes council agrees to launch a marketing campaign about its environmental stewardship.
Simone is not the first to attempt to sanitize the town’s name. There have been calls to rename it in the past. However, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo has said it would be a big decision requiring the support of the public.
“Amherstburg is more than just its name, and there hasn’t been a lot of interest in looking into changing it,” he said last August. “It’s not like a street or a building.”