Halton District School Board trustees approve renaming Ryerson Public School in Burlington

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Published June 17, 2021 at 12:39 pm

Halton District School Board trustees recently unanimously approved a motion to rename Ryerson Public School in Burlington.

The motion to rename the school, which is located on Woodview Rd., was made in accordance with the Board’s Naming and Renaming Schools Policy and Governance Procedure.

Edgerton Ryerson, whom the school was named after, is known for his contributions to Ontario’s public educational system. However, his recommendations were also instrumental in the design of Canada’s residential school system.

Back in 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada concluded the school system amounted to the genocide of Indigenous people.

As a result, HDSB has received requests to remove Ryerson’s name from the school.

The renaming process will begin in September to ensure that parents, guardians, students and the community have the opportunity to provide their input before being completed by the end of November.

Until a new name is chosen, the current exterior school sign will be covered. Additionally, information and signage will be posted to indicate there is a renaming process underway that will take place in Fall 2021.

Due to the community park adjacent to the school having the same name, the Chair of the Board will be sending a letter to the Burlington Mayor to inform her of the HDSB process to rename the school, as part of the Board motion.

“As Trustees, we need to lead by example and have the courage to approach these difficult conversations,” says Chair Andréa Grebenc.

“As years have gone by and truths have been uncovered, we have a responsibility, in collaboration with our staff and communities, to reevaluate past decisions and address accordingly.

“The perspectives of the diverse communities of Halton must be valued and honoured. Indigenous students, staff and the broader community should be able to enter a school without being harmed by the HDSB upholding the name of a person that has contributed to genocide.”

The meeting on June 16 also included a delegation from a parent of Ryerson Public School who supported the renaming of the school.

The Board has committed to supportive and inclusive practices as well as promoting knowledge and understanding of Indigenous perspectives and realities as part of the HDSB’s Multi-Year Strategic Plan 2020-2024. One of the first steps being taken is the assessment on how the HDSB can raise awareness.

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