George Jay Elementary may have its name changed if its parental advisory council pushes forward. (File contributed/Fernwood NRG)

George Jay Elementary may have its name changed if its parental advisory council pushes forward. (File contributed/Fernwood NRG)

Victoria school board to explore George Jay Elementary name change

Community consultation is expected to begin shortly

George Jay Elementary’s name may soon become a thing of the past.

On Monday, the Greater Victoria School Board agreed to begin a community consultation process to change the name of George Jay.

“George Jay was a former Victoria Board chair whose anti-Chinese racism and segregationist policies harmed children, families and the Victoria community,” says Jordan Watters in a Facebook post on Tuesday morning.

Though Jay was a city school board trustee and helped established Victoria College, which later became the University of Victoria, he was known for his anti-Chinese sentiments.

Timothy J. Stanley, a former UBC professor, wrote a book titled ‘Contesting White Supremacy: school segregation, anti-racism and the making of Chinese Canadians.’

In it, he details how [Jay] suggested that the school board return to its 1907 policy that ‘no Chinese be admitted to the schools unless they know English sufficient to make them [compliant] to ordinary class room discipline.’

Though some Chinese students passed the test and spoke perfect English, the segregation affected every student of Chinese descent.

“What are we supposed to tell our kids when they ask who George Jay was?” says Angela Carmichael, president of George Jay’s parent advisory council (PAC).

“Sometimes, it’s just easier to say that he was a board trustee member.”

With Monday’s approval, the ball is rolling for the PAC.

“We have to stop being so fragile,” says Carmichael about pushback to the name change.

“You shouldn’t keep irrelevant names that promote hate.”

Carmichael names Low Kwong Joe aka ‘Joe Hope’, the former president of the Chinese Club in the 1920s, as a contender for his work to fight Chinese segregation. Additionally, she hopes the committee might consider a First Nations name.

Currently, no committee members have been chosen.