Canadian town votes against changing street named ‘Swastika Trail’

(JTA) — Residents of a town in Canada decided not to rename a street that is currently named “Swastika Trail.”

Last week, the Puslinch Township in Ontario voted 4-1 against changing the name of the privately owned road, The Canadian Press reported.

Two months ago, the neighborhood association voted to keep the name. Following that vote, two couples living on the street reached out to B’nai Brith Canada, a Jewish advocacy group, for advice on how to convince the town to change the name.

In November, B’nai Brith opened an online petition calling on township officials to change the street’s name.

But at last week’s meeting, members of the Puslinch Township council said they wanted to yield to the earlier vote by the neighborhood association.

The street was named in the 1920s, but residents told The Canadian Press that the swastika should not be vilified as a Nazi symbol. They pointed out that it is an ancient religious symbol meaning life and good work in Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. There is also a town in northern Ontario called Swastika, which is named after a local goldmine which used the symbol for good luck.

Avi Benlolo, president of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, said keeping the name was “a national shame” in a letter to the town’s mayor ahead of the vote.

“It’s already a national shame that residents of your community are beholden to a name representing a symbol that was utilized in the murder of nearly 10 million people in concentration camps and more than 40,000 Canadian soldiers who went to fight the Nazis — not to mention over 100,000 Canadian soldiers who were injured during the war,” Benlolo said.

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