As the Greater Victoria School District struggles to change the name of George Jay Elementary School due to the racist history of the man it is named after, a school in Port Alberni celebrates its new First Nation nickname Nations.
The Pacific Rim School District recently changed the name from AW Neill Elementary to Tsuma-as Elementary, a name that refers to the streams that flow into the local valley.
Neill, who represented the region in the House of Commons from 1921 to 1945 and was a member of the British Columbia legislature, attempted to deny Asian immigrants the right to vote and supported anti-China laws and residential schools.
He had an alliance placed on his house so that it could not be sold to Asians, although the alliance was removed in 2020.
Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council President Judith Sayers, who attended AW Neill, said the name change “made it look like a cloud was rising from the school.”
A rainbow even appeared for the occasion, she said.
“I think in the spirit of reconciliation, renaming buildings, places is really important to get rid of the old colonial history and everything that brings negativity to First Nations people.”
Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions, another former student at the school, said the community has been working on the name change for some time.
âWe are really proud that the school district took charge of this and went through a whole process, not only to remove the name that hurt a lot in our community, but to find a really meaningful way to rename it. “
Many people were involved in the effort to effect the change, Minions said.
âIt’s exciting and it’s a really positive step forward.
A new name for George Jay Elementary in Victoria could be chosen by next spring.
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