August 29, 2017 11:34 pm
Updated: August 29, 2017 11:36 pm

Alberta Teachers’ Association won’t follow Ontario’s lead in calling for renaming of schools

WATCH ABOVE: In August 2017, David Akin filed this report about a growing campaign to remove John A. Macdonald's name from schools and buildings in Ontario.

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Though some Ontario teachers want a prominent Canadian figure’s name stripped from schools, it seems the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) is not taking the same stance.

ATA president, Greg Jeffery, told 630 CHED’s Ryan Jespersen the motion to remove John A. Macdonald’s name in Ontario is not something that would happen here.

Listen below: 630 CHED’s Ryan Jespersen discusses whether name changes are needed.

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“We do not have a position in our book that would mirror that of the elementary teachers of Ontario,” Jeffery said. “All of our policies are passed at our annual general meeting. Nothing has come up… it is not a position of the Alberta Teachers’ Association.”

The Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) wants Macdonald’s name removed from schools, saying it believes it creates an unsafe environment for kids to learn in.

John A Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister, approved the first residential schools.

READ MORE: The controversy over Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister, explained

“I don’t believe that genocide was the intent of John A. Macdonald back in the day,” Jeffery said. “But, as we look at it now — it seems different.”

Local critics have advocated to change things named after Frank Oliver – the former MP involved in pressuring Indigenous communities into surrendering their land.

READ MORE: Should Frank Oliver’s name be removed from public spaces in Edmonton?

Watch below: On Aug .25, 2017, Fletcher Kent filed this report about a group raising concerns about Frank Oliver, the man a downtown Edmonton community is named after, due to his controversial past.

Amid Macdonald and other names rising as points of controversy, Jeffery said the ATA is working with the Alberta government and the Indigenous community to improve curriculum for students and to help teachers address such issues with students.

READ MORE: Teachers lack confidence to talk about residential schools: Alberta study

Watch below: On Aug. 20, 2017, Tom Vernon filed this report after a new study found many teachers lack the confidence to deliver lesson plans around residential schools.

Former Edmonton Historian Laureate Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail, who championed reconciliation, told 630 CHED’s Ryan Jespersen it’s a tough situation.

“There’s all these big debates in the [United] States over confederate statues,” Metcalfe-Chenail said. “I like… a lot of the work that’s been done in Edmonton, where they talk back to some of the original mural and public artists. [There are] Indigenous artists and other folk that are contextualizing that and really explaining different sides.”

READ MORE: Edmontonians gather for anti-racism rally, speak out against controversial historical figure

Metcalfe-Chenail said she looks forward to hearing how Edmonton will solve the problem.

“I know there’s huge logistical issues when it comes to names and things,” she said. “I think a lot of other communities are going to be watching to see what [Edmonton] does.”

READ MORE: Take John A. Macdonald’s name off schools, said no majority of Canadians, anywhere: poll

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