Canadian Town Won’t Change ‘Swastika Trail’ To Less Offensive Name

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While a great number of local residents want to change the name of the road, others argue that the change would be costly to business owners.

Long before the swastika symbol became the icon of Nazi Germany, the crooked cross was used in India to symbolize the spiritual principles in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.

Unfortunately for a small town in Ontario, Canada, the road named after the original symbol is associated with the Nazi philosophy, not its ancient meaning. Still, locals refuse to change it to something less offensive.

Swastika Trail located in Puslinch, Ontario, is at the center of a heated debate after residents voted to keep the name in November.

According to a letter written by residents, the road wasn’t named after the hateful ideology or by Hitler supporters.

“We are not ashamed of where we live and a change would be an injustice to our township history,” they added.

But according to residents who want to to see the word removed from their city’s road sign, the change would show the world that the town is being consistent with its beliefs.

“[T]he reaction is consistently, without exception, one of shock and dismay and disbelief that there is a street named Swastika Trail,” resident Randy Guzar reportedly said.

Locals who believe that the road should not be renamed argue that those who have businesses on that street will have a hard time updating their documentation, which could also cost them greatly in the long run. However, many are resisting this point by saying that the road causes them shame.

To Aidan Fishman, who serves as the national director of the league of human rights at B’Nai Brith, the change is important because it's a reflection on town residents.

“At the end of the day, if the municipality refuses to change it, that would be, I think, a great mark of shame for the people involved," he said.

"The name is linked to bigotry, intolerance, and anti-Semitism," Guzar said. "It is a name that will be forever linked to hatred and various other atrocities."

Online, people were upset that there's still a debate revolving around this issue.

Now, residents are asking people to sign a petition asking the city to change the name for good.

If business owners would, indeed, be negatively impacted by a name switch, perhaps residents could ask city officials to make the process easier for them to change their documents without charging them hefty fees.

Where there is a will, there is a way, and the residents of Puslinch appear determined to rid their town of this road's off-putting name once and for all. 

Banner/thumbnail credit: Flickr, Esko Kurvinen

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