Kitchener name change debate being revisited
KITCHENER -- Should the name of the city of Kitchener be changed?
The debate is being revisited following a Facebook post by Jenna Thomas of Kitchener, who says she feels a lot of people aren’t aware of the history behind the name.
It was in the spring of 1916, during the middle of the First World War, that the city then known as “Berlin” voted for a name change.
While one of the possible options being considered was “Corona,” the city settled on Kitchener because of British general Horatio Herbert Kitchener.
"He was one of the most successful of the British generals against the Indigenous forces of Africa, India, and places like that in the time of the British Empire,” said local historian Rych Mills.
Kitchener was a famous face on a recruitment poster, as his success was considered a morale boost at the time.
He died shortly before the name vote.
“People love a military hero,” said Mills. “That's the way of the world, whether we like it or not - we can't understand it now.”
In her public Facebook post, Thomas writes, “there is no room in our city for hate and the name sure does have some heavy meaning behind it.
“We should be detaching ourselves from the atrocities committed through history but instead we are glorifying those responsible."
Thomas is urging her friends to contact their municipal representatives to express their concerns about the name Kitchener.
“There's a lot of greys in history, and if you are going to do history in black and white, you might as well go back to school and start from the beginning, because it is not black and white,” said Mills.
In a statement to CTV News, a representative from the City of Kitchener says there is no plan to revisit their name at the time.
"It is not surprising that recent world events have us contemplating the origin of our city's name," the statement reads in part. "While we in no way condone, diminish, or forget his actions, Kitchener has become so much more than its historic connection to a British field marshal.
"Our name is not a celebration of an individual leader's hurtful legacy."