Brampton school named after Sir John A. Macdonald might be renamed, board says

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Published June 17, 2021 at 1:10 am

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A Brampton public school is in “step one” of having Sir John A. Macdonald’s name removed after advocacy from a teacher union and growing public support for addressing generations of trauma faced by Indigenous people.

Peel District School Board (PDSB) trustee Nokha Dakroub tweeted on Wednesday night (June 16) that the board will “begin (a) consultation process for consideration of renaming Sir. John A. Macdonald Public School.” The announcement comes less than two weeks after Gail Bannister-Clarke, the president of the Peel local within the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, wrote to the board asking that the name of the school immediately be changed.

Numerous school boards, municipalities and post-secondary institutions across Ontario have either removed, or are considering removing, the names and likenesses of Macdonald and Egerton Ryerson from buildings and public spaces. Canada’s residential school system is part of the legacy of both leaders. 

As Canada’s first prime minister, Macdonald authorized the creation of the residential school system late in the 19th century. Ryerson created the model for residential schools, and was also the founder of Ontario’s public education system. 

“It is simply untenable, and a continuation of the generational harm and trauma that Indigenous peoples have been made to endure, for this board to ignore this call to take this small step towards Truth and Reconcilation,” Bannister-Clarke wrote in her letter to the Peel public board on June 3.

The remains of nearly 400 indigenous children have been discovered at four former residential school sites in the last three weeks. The first and most prominent was in Kamloops, B.C., but human remains have also been found in Regina, in Lestock, Sask., and in Regina.

The Ontario government said Tuesday it would pledge $10 million to identify and commemorate residential school burial sites. However, Southern Ontario chiefs have said the pledge is not enough.

Elsewhere, Hamilton’s public school board voted last week to take Ryerson’s name off a school.

The Kingston, Ont.-area public school board also said Wednesday that it is taking Macdonald’s name off an elementary school, effective immediately. Macdonald held his first elected position there before becoming prime minister.

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