'I'm proud to live here': Neighbours divided over renaming 'Swastika Trail'
Published Saturday, November 25, 2017 6:02PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, November 25, 2017 7:23PM EST
An Ontario community is divided over a push to rename a street called “Swastika Trail.”
Some residents say they are embarrassed to live on a street with a name commonly associated with Nazi Germany. Others say renaming the roadway would be re-writing history.
Jim and Jennifer Horton, who have lived on the street in Puslinch Township for more than eight years, say they think the name is offensive and embarrassing. They want council to change it at a meeting in December.
Jewish advocacy group B'nai Brith Canada is supporting the Hortons’ effort, saying that the street signs are, intentionally or unintentionally, “unwelcoming” to Holocaust survivors, Second World War veterans and their descendants. The group has also started a petition calling for the street to be renamed.
Jennifer Horton points out that the street name is on her driver’s license and mail, which she says reflects poorly on the whole community.
“It’s just shocking to have to explain that to people,” she said.
Neighbour Donna O’Krafka, however, doesn’t support changing the name, pointing out that it was named in the 1920s, before the rise of Adolf Hitler. She also said the Sanskrit-derived word also has a positive connotation.
“You think of swastika and naturally and you think of Hitler and all the horrible things he did,” said O’Krafka, who has lived there 14 years. “But this is our street,” she added. “I’m proud to live here.”
Another resident, Mark Busch, also wants to keep the name. “(Swastika) means everything living in one in peace and harmony,” he said. “That’s the original meaning of the swastika"
Jennifer Horton said she has heard that argument made for years, but that the swastika continues to be associated with neo-Nazi groups.
“It continues to be used on campuses, spray-painted on buildings, on schools and so the association with white supremacy, bigotry, intolerance has not gone away,” she said.
With a report from CTV Kitchener’s Tina Yazdani