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 residents divided over changing school name due to its racist history

50 per cent of survey respondents favour changing name of George Jay Elementary

Victoria residents are divided on the proposed name change for George Jay Elementary school.

In a report presented at a Greater Victoria School District (SD61) Operations Policy and Planning Committee meeting on Monday, results from an online survey were discussed.

In October, SD61 launched the survey to gauge people’s opinions on changing the school’s name. Parents began rallying for a name change this summer after the history of its namesake was discovered. George Jay was a long-time school board member who named the school after himself while he still held his role. He was instrumental in the segregation of the school, most specifically banning Chinese students from attending.

ALSO READ: Parents advocate for change of George Jay Elementary name, citing racist history

More than 2,500 people responded to the survey, and 50 more attended an open house on the topic, with others supplying written responses.

Exactly 50 per cent of online respondents said they supported the name change, while 37.09 per cent said they did not. A total of 12.91 per cent said they may favour a name change once they knew what the naming options were.

Written response results were closer; 49 per cent were in favour, 44 per cent were not, five per cent were neutral and one per cent didn’t respond.

At the open house, 17 people wanted to change the name, 20 did not and one would support it once they know naming options.

“It reflects my conversations with the community, certainly,” said Jordan Watters, SD61 board chair. “I know there’s a lot of perspectives held and that it’s difficult to suggest changing a name without an alternative option, but it’s important to ask those questions separately.”

ALSO READ: Victoria school board to explore George Jay Elementary name change

From public engagement responses, the leading name suggestions included North Park Elementary, Fernwood Elementary, Cook Street Elementary, a name that recognizes First Nations and traditional territory, or a name that recognizes the Chinese Canadian community.

The next steps for the school board take place at two committee meetings in January when members decide if they’d like to carry forward with a name change or not. If a name change is selected, a specific committee will be created which includes school trustees, school administrators, staff, parents, and Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations representatives.

“Regardless if we change the name I feel really proud that we’re having these conversations,” Watters said. “This process is examining the past and that helps us change what we do moving forward… George Jay is our own school and our own history, and it’s important to be honest about that.”

nicole.cresenzi@vicnews.com

Like us on Facebook Send a Tweet to @NicoleCrescenzi
and follow us on Instagram

Greater Victoria School Districtsd61

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A man was issued a $230 fine after refusing to wear a mask inside a Central Saanich business. (Central Saanich Police Services/Twitter)
Man issued fine after refusing to mask up in Central Saanich business

$230 ticket issued under the COVID-19 Related Measures Act

A report by investigator Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond found “widespread systemic racism against Indigenous people” in a report released Monday.
Peninsula hospital one where ‘significant work underway’

Investigation finds ‘widespread systemic racism against Indigenous people’ in provincial health care

(Courtesy of West Shore RCMP)
Second driver facing impaired charges after View Royal traffic stop leads to loaded firearms

West Shore RCMP stop swerving motorist and Saanich woman who came to pick her up

Victoria police issued tickets to two Victoria party hosts Saturday night, according to VicPD Chief Del Manak. (Unsplash)
Victoria partiers hid in closets, bedrooms in an attempt to avoid fines

Police gave out COVID-19 tickets to two separate parties

Classes are cancelled at Royal Bay Secondary School and other schools Nov. 30 due to power outages. (Black Press Media file photo)
Classes cancelled across the West Shore, Sooke due to power outages

Students can be picked up but facilities remain open

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Fatty Legs co-author responds to Abbotsford class assignment on residential schools

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says as Canada’s deficit tops $381B

‘The risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much’

Left to right: A screenshot of NTC nurse navigator Lesley Cerney, FNHA regional mental health manager Georjeana Paterson and Island Health’s medical health officer Dr. Charmaine Enns addressing Ehattesaht community members from Ehatis reserve in a Facebook live update. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Medical team sent to Ehatis reserve near Zeballos to guide community through COVID outbreak

17 cases, eight recoveries and no hospitalizations as Island Health praises First Nation’s response

Still from a video surveillance camera of a man alleged to have stolen from several people at knife-point in Chilliwack (Rosedale) early on Nov. 28, 2020. (Facebook)
B.C. man defends his family against intruder, saves neighbour while wielding hockey stick

RCMP looking for footage that captures violent crime spree in Chilliwack

Harbour seals rest on log booms at Flavelle Mill in Port Hardy. With recent announcements the mill will be getting rid of the log booms, Dr. David Rosen sees an opportunity to study how the disappearance of this highly-frequented refuge for the seals will alter their behaviour in Burrard Inlet. (Photo supplied by David Rosen)
What the heck is going on with marine mamals in Vancouver waterways?

UBC researcher asks why they’re returning, and what role we’re playing

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009. (RCMP photo)
Human remains found off U.S. coast in 2009 identified as Penticton man

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009

Most Read