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Town Split Over Renaming Street Called ‘Swastika Trail’

(JTA) — A township council in Ontario will vote on whether or not to rename a street called Swastika Trail.

The street in Puslinch Township, located about 50 miles west of Toronto, reportedly was named in the 1920s. Residents have told the Canadian Press that the swastika should not be vilified as it is an ancient symbol meaning life and good work and that only since the Nazi era has it come to symbolize hate and racism.

Many local residents told B’nai Brith Canada that they are embarrassed by the trail’s name, especially when forced to use it on drivers’ licenses and other government documents. But residents of the street reportedly voted on the issue earlier this month, with a slight majority voting in favor of keeping the name, according to the Canadian Press.

Two couples living on the street reached out to B’nai Brith Canada, a Jewish advocacy group, for advice on how to convince the township to change the name.

B’nai Brith last week opened an online petition calling on township officials to change the street’s name. The township council reportedly will discuss renaming the street at its December 20 meeting.

“The swastika is a symbol of hatred and genocide,” Michael Mostyn, B’nai Brith Canada CEO, said in a statement. “In 2017 alone, we’ve seen swastikas defacing university campuses, high schools, and people’s homes across Canada.”

He added: “Tens of thousands of Canadian servicemen made the ultimate sacrifice to combat Nazi tyranny. Millions more were victimized by the evil depravity symbolized today by the swastika. Maintaining this street name would be an insult to Holocaust survivors, and a gross disservice to our veterans.”

There also is a town in northern Ontario called Swastika, which is named after a local goldmine which used the symbol for good luck.

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