At the Policy & Governance Committee meeting of April 10, staff brought up a piece of admin procedure ("AP") that they're working on. It's about naming and re-naming our schools. We currently have two procedures in place but staff and stakeholders are seeing that it doesn't meet our needs anymore. Coming out of the AP Working Group were a set of guidelines and considerations, and staff was seeking feedback from the committee to take back to the next APWG meeting. (Some members of the APWG were also members of the P&G Committee.)
Draft Naming Considerations for Discussion & Feedback
- Recognizing that the use of place-based names, although not for buildings, has been an Indigenous practice since time immemorial, new school names should be place-based moving forward.
- Place-based names should be meaningful and reflect the significant geography of the area. This recognizes that the relationship of the school building to the land is important int he naming process.
- As it is acceptable for a school to be given both an English and a hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ name, dual naming shall be considered in naming a new school.
- If/When selecting a place-based name that acknowledges Indigenous history, it is important to seek the early involvement of the Musquem Elders in the process.
- An education and communication plan should be developed and implemented to support understanding the history and significance of a new school name and to teach the proper pronunciation of the name given.
These suggestions were viewed very favourably, for obvious reasons. There was feedback on some wording of the principles in hopes of strengthening our commitment to working with the Musqueam Nation, and some stakeholders also wanted to see the AP changed more quickly. My biggest piece of feedback was for the renaming procedure to include guidance on not erasing history. Sir William MacDonald, after whom an elementary school was named, was a wealthy philantropist and a wealthy tobacconist. Renaming SWM Elementary to 'Xpey was a stellar decision. But we must also take care not to pretend that we didn't benefit from his wealth.
A lot of inspiration came from reading Yale's decision on renaming one of its colleges, then-named after a pro-slavery white supremacist: https://president.yale.edu/decision-name-calhoun-college
Calhoun College is now named after Grace Mary Hopper, who was a badass in the navy and in the field of computer science.