Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) further approved a request to rename Sir John A. Macdonald Public School and F.D. Roosevelt Public School during Tuesday night’s board meeting.
The board of trustees received a report from the School Name Review Committee which outlined considerations for the naming and renaming of schools named after individuals.
The purpose of the committee’s review was to ensure school names across TVDSB “continue to reflect the Board’s commitment to promoting human rights, equity and inclusive learning environments that honour the diversity of Thames Valley schools.”
According to the report, 67 schools and learning centres and 28 learning environments in TVDSB schools are named after individuals.
Included in the committee’s report were recommendations to rename Sir John A. Macdonald Public School and F.D. Roosevelt Public School due to their namesakes’ historical ties to racism and discrimination.
While recognizing that this process will require careful consideration and ample timelines, the motion that a review be conducted by the committee of all TVDSB schools, facilities and learning environments was passed June 22, 2021.
“Many of the recommendations and considerations are really around community consultation,” said Andrea Marlowe, diversity and equity coordinator for TVDSB. “The focus of the committee was to suggest that the board engage certain communities, whether it’s a specific school community as a name, or the broader Thames Valley community as a whole, around whether or not a name should be changed.”
Sir John A. Macdonald Public School is named after the first prime minister of Canada, who is also labelled as an “architect” in implementing Canada’s residential school system.
F.D. Roosevelt Public School is named after Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd president of the United States and the only president elected into office four times. However, historians accuse Roosevelt of performing various acts of racism throughout his political career, including the internment of Japanese Americans.
Earlier this year, Ryerson Public School, named after Egerton Ryerson, who was instrumental in designing Canada’s residential school system, was renamed to Old North Public School following a similar review by TVDSB.
“I’m very grateful to the committee that was put forward in order to come back with these recommendations because I realize just how difficult these directions are,” said trustee Corrine Rahman.
Trustees directed TVDSB administration to return to the board with a proposed plan to implement the committee’s recommendations by December 2022.