Two new Hamilton schools named, one in honour of civil rights pioneer

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Published April 28, 2021 at 12:57 pm

Two new Hamilton schools in the city’s East End and Stoney Creek that will be opening in September have been given their new names.

Earlier this month, trustees with the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) settled on Collegiate Elementary School and Viola Desmond Elementary School.

Viola Desmond Elementary, named for the Black Canadian civil rights pioneer, is located in East Hamilton and will accommodate upwards of 700 students from JK to Grade 8 from Glen Echo, Glen Brae, Sir Isaac Brock, Elizabeth Bagshaw, and Sir Wilfrid Laurier.

Desmond, a successful businesswoman from Nova Scotia, was at the centre of one of the most highly publicized cases of racial discrimination in Canadian history.

In 1946, she was arrested for sitting in a ‘whites-only’ section of a New Glasgow, N.S. movie theatre after paying for a ticket for a section of the theatre intended for Black people.

She was eventually convicted of a minor tax violation for the difference between the seat she paid for and the one she occupied, even though she had offered to pay for the full price of the ticket.

Her arrest and subsequent court case helped ignite the modern civil rights movement in Canada.

The original Collegiate Avenue school is located in lower Stoney Creek on Collegiate Avenue between Queenston Road and King Street.

The new school community will be located on the original Collegiate Avenue school site and although newly updated, retains some of the original building. It will house more than 200 Jk to Grade 8 students when it opens later this year.

“Our community members and School Naming Advisory Committees presented Trustees with a wonderful selection of names that reflect HWDSB’s vision, mission, and commitments,” said Dawn Danko, Chair of the Board in a press release.

“School renewal and revitalization is an exciting process for students, staff, and families and Trustees cannot wait for them to enjoy their new facilities in September.”

The HWDSB solicited suggestions for names of the new elementary schools from stakeholder groups and members of the community through the completion of online surveys and written correspondence.

In total, more than 80 names were pitched for the new schools and the suggestions were then narrowed down by each site’s School Naming Advisory Committee before being submitted to trustees who then decided on the names at  meeting on April 19.

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