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Winnipeg school board votes to remove name of Cecil Rhodes from local school

Cecil Rhodes School. Winnipeg School Division

A Weston-area school will be changing its controversial name after a vote by the school board Monday night.

Cecil Rhodes School, on Elgin Avenue, was the subject of a petition started last year asking for the name change in light of its namesake’s history of racism and advocating white supremacy.

The petition, which had received over 1,740 signatures as of this week, calls for the Winnipeg School Division to follow in the footsteps of institutions and organizations worldwide that have removed the name of Rhodes — among other controversial historical figures — from their buildings.

Rhodes was a British politician and businessman in southern Africa in the 19th Century, who was outspoken in his support of British imperialism and is reported to have called white Europeans “the first race in the world.”

His policies led him to be labelled as the “architect” of South Africa’s racist apartheid system by some historians, and he’s perhaps best known for his connection to the country of Rhodesia (now known as Zimbabwe), after which the country was named.

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Although Rhodes’ legacy — especially in recent years — has been one of white supremacy and colonialism, he also notably established the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, an international postgraduate award at Oxford University.

The scholarship’s recipients have included world leaders, Nobel Prize winners, acclaimed authors, and more.

Radean Carter, Winnipeg School Division information officer, told Global News that a new name is expected to be approved by next fall.

“The next step is for a new committee to be created and further consultation with the school community on what the new name will be with the intention that the new name will be decided and approved by the board by September 2022,” Carter said.

“The committee will collaborate with Cecil Rhodes students, staff, parents and guardians and the community as a whole to select a name representative of the community.”

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