Trustees with the Waterloo Region District School Board have voted to rename Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary School in Waterloo to Laurel Heights Secondary School.
The school at 650 Laurelwood Dr. was named for Canada’s first prime minister in 2004 and the process to change it began late last year due to Macdonald’s involvement in establishing the residential school system.
In January, the board put out a call for submissions to rename the school and a naming committee received 450 suggestions, but only a little over 100 met the board’s policy around naming and renaming board facilities.
A short list of names was then selected by the committee and submitted to staff and students for their feedback.
The board said 70 per cent of students and staff participated in the process resulting in a final three names: Laurel Heights Secondary School, Headwaters Secondary School and Northwestern Secondary School.
During a trustee meeting this week, superintendent Crissa Hill, who chaired the naming committee, said Laurel Heights has been recommended due to its connections to both the community neighbourhood Laurelwood and the natural world with Laurel Creek running through the area.
Hill also noted that many suggestions that were submitted were connected to the local Indigenous community.
“The committee felt that it did not have the requisite time to engage in a fulsome consultation in a good way with those Indigenous communities while honouring the timelines of the process,” she said.
The committee is recommending that the next naming committee consider the names Willow River Secondary School and Sagewood Secondary School and have time to engage with consultation with local Indigenous communities.
The school is one of three in the area that have been chosen for renaming, with the others being A.R. Kaufman Public School and Ryerson Public School in Cambridge.