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Split Decision

by Olivia Rutt and Jaime Myslik

Swastika Trail

A name is a name

What’s in a name? That is the issue that Puslinch council is juggling right now as opponents are asking to rename a privately owned road named Swastika Trail.

The road was named in the 1920s before the Nazi Party took it for itself. The name, no matter how it may have been perceived aeons ago, is now corrupted by hate and discrimination.

In most of the western world, which is where the road is situated, the word swastika does not denote a feeling of peace and good fortune.

This is not about political correctness, but about being mindful of the impact that word has on an individual. There are thousands of other words in the English lexicon that express the same feeling of good fortune.

The opponents of the road name include B’nai Brith Canada, a Jewish advocacy group, as well as some residents who will present a petition to council on Dec. 20.

The ownership of the road puts council in a sticky situation. When the issue came up earlier this year, council suggested the private road owners come to their own solution.

The cottagers association voted 25-20 against changing the name, but hopefully they will reconsider.

Council apparently does have the authority to rename the road.

Like many municipalities are doing, it might be a good idea to rename the road after one of Puslinch Township’s veterans who fought for freedom and against hate.

– Olivia


A vote is a vote

The Swastika Trail debate is something that has shown up in our paper frequently over the last six months.

When I first heard about it, I’ll admit my reaction was outrage. How could a street be named after a symbol representing so much hate, intolerance and terror? Then I learned that the “swastika” roots actually mean “good fortune.”  

The road in question was named in the 1920s, long before the horrors of the Second World War, so in all likelihood the intent was to have a road name that meant “good fortune.”

Yet in 2017, almost 100 years later, the term elicits discomfort.

Puslinch Township has received many delegations calling on council to rename the road.

However, one crucial detail is overlooked in those requests: the road isn’t owned by the township. It is private and in early November Bayview Cottagers Association members who reside on the road held a democratic vote.

 The vote  resulted in 25 votes to keep the name and 20 to change it.

Living in a democratic country means that every person can have a say, free speech is valued and voting matters.

While not an official referendum, the owners of the road have spoken. They’re keeping “Swastika Trail.”

I’m sure we can all think of situations where we’d like to change the outcome of a vote, but we have to be careful. When the voting system crumbles, so could democracy.

– Jaime

Vol 50 Issue 48


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