Policy debate over renaming Vancouver’s Crosstown Elementary begins Monday

Won Alexander Cumyow (left) sitting with the Chinese Empire Reform Association which he founded.
Won Alexander Cumyow (left) sitting with the Chinese Empire Reform Association which he founded. City of Vancouver Archives

The Vancouver School Board will consider changing policies when it comes to naming and renaming schools at Monday night’s meeting.

A motion put forward by chairperson Janet Fraser, says the names of schools don’t adequately represent the city’s historic multicultural heritage.

Trustee Allan Wong says there is still wiggle room around newly built Crosstown Elementary’s name, and he’d like to see a famous Chinese-Canadian honoured.

“I do believe Alexander Won Cumyow would be an important figure to be recognized, especially in that particular area,” he said.

He was the first Chinese Canadian born in this country.

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But the school’s Parents Advisory Council feels like that goes against the community that they’ve built around the new school.

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“We finally get stability a year ago, with a name and a school and a location. And we have a dedicated staff who is creative and has come together to work on codes of conduct, and we’ve brought artists in residence in,”  said Chair Meaghan Taylor.

“And now we have a school board who is threatening to say, ‘Oh yeah yeah. Take away that last year of work that you’ve done.'”

Taylor says the PAC believes Cumyow should be recognized, but the board shouldn’t dwell on a name that’s already on the school.

“The big issue for us is that they are elected officials. There’s policy in place for them to help them make decisions and they’re simply not following that policy,” she said.

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The motion, up for debate Monday, includes a process for stakeholder and community consultation.

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