Russell Township council approved a process during a special session July 6 to find a new namesake for the municipality and repudiate any ties with Peter Russell, a former provincial administrator and slaveowner, who lived two centuries ago.
Russell Township council approved a process during a special session July 6 to find a new namesake for the municipality and repudiate any ties with Peter Russell, a former provincial administrator and slaveowner, who lived two centuries ago.

Community seeks new namesake

Russell Township council doesn’t want the municipality’s name and reputation linked to that of a slaveowner during the early history of Canada.

During a special session July 6 council approved a proposal from Mayor Pierre Leroux to set up a community process to choose a new namesake for the municipality.

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Recherché: individu nommé Russell

“I am extremely proud to say that we are keeping our name,” stated Mayor Leroux. “Now that the decision has been made, we can concentrate on working together in finding a new namesake. This is an opportunity to bring our community together through education, awareness and community spirit.”

The decision to find a new namesake for the municipality was sparked by an online petition that a former resident of the community calling for a name change for Russell Township. Both the Village of Russell, the township, and Russell County are named after Peter Russell, a former provincial administrator, who lived two centuries ago and during his lifetime was a slaveowner and also used his political influence to hinder legislation intended to outlaw slavery in Ontario.

“The ideals of Peter Russell do not reflect the current values of Russell Township residents,” stated council in a news release. “Russell Township strives to be a kind-hearted inclusive community, whose people, policies, and sense of community make this an amazing place to live.”

Changing the name of the village and the township could involve a large amount of legal and bureaucratic expenses and time, not including the expense for area residents and businesses who would have to change their mailing addresses, driver’s licences, and other legal identification, along with credit cards, and other documents.

Instead council and municipal administration will launch a public consultation process to choose a new namesake for the community. The process involves setting up a vetting committee which will review potential candidate nominees for the township’s namesake.

Residents will be able to submit nominations of people they think would be a worthy namesake for the municipality. Details for the entire process, including setting up the vetting committee and the nominee submission methods will be confirmed by council and announced at a later date.

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