Board members of the Greater Victoria School District have voted to change the name of George Jay Elementary. (File contributed/Fernwood NRG)

Board members of the Greater Victoria School District have voted to change the name of George Jay Elementary. (File contributed/Fernwood NRG)

Greater Victoria School District will rename George Jay Elementary

The board will develop a committee to choose a new name

The Greater Victoria School District (SD61) will change the name of George Jay Elementary School after a racist history was linked to the namesake.

In August, members of the school’s parent advisory council (PAC) began advocating for a name change after learning that George Jay, a former school board director, named the school after himself in 1910 and imposed strict policies against students of Chinese heritage. The decision to go ahead with the change has left many people happy.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Angela Cooper, PAC president. “The diversity of George Jay is astounding… it’s really important that we can use this as a teaching and learning opportunity with the school.”

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

SD61 launched a survey to gauge the public’s opinion on changing the name in October, which resulted in mixed reviews.

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.

READ MORE: Victoria residents divided over changing school name due to its racist history

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.

On Monday, SD61 board members voted to move forward with choosing a new name, with trustees voting to create a committee to explore name options. While the committee has not been developed yet, SD61 said in a release that it will have representation from the Victoria Chinese community, Songhees and Esquimalt Nations, parents and guardians, district and school staff, and the board.

“I think as a whole we’re just really proud to be able to have the opportunity to learn more about our history and to address the historical wrongs, and to plot a very positive way forward,” said Jordan Watters, SD61 Board Chair. “George Jay is a very diverse community and we want to be sure it has a name to reflect the community more broadly.”

Watters added that the committee will take its time in choosing a new name, while also developing a way to commemorate the history of the school.

“We’ve learned a lot from other processes, such as with the [City of Victoria’s] John A. Macdonald statue, of how important it is for the community to do this properly,” Watters said. “We’re not interested in white-washing history, we’re really interested in addressing it and moving forward in a positive way. The name isn’t just going to go away, it’s part of our history and we’re in the education industry so it would be important to involve an education component.”

Watters was not certain what that education component might be, but said a plaque or something visible would likely be included.

While a report from the committee isn’t expected until the end of the school year, some names put forward by the community will be considered. 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.

nicole.crescenzi@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

(Black Press Media file photo)
Youth in police custody after kitchen knife call

A knife was recovered during the arrest, no injuries reported

Marc Porpaczy said he’s glad he delayed his daily walk with his dog, Juno, after a car crashed just outside his driveway just before 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 25. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
VIDEO: Dramatic crash highlights need for sidewalks, say Colwood residents

‘The residents have gone from frustrated to angry’

(Black Press Media file photo)
VicPD arrest man at gunpoint after firearm call

Man faces charges for breaching condition not to possess replica firearms

Jerry Dyck plans to purchase a new RV to drive across Canada in, once it’s safe to travel again. (Courtesy BCLC)
Victoria man plans post-pandemic cross-Canada RV trip after $2M lottery win

Retired electrician bought the winning ticket in Duncan

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Jesse Savidant, 31, is wanted by the RCMP after failing to appear in provincial court in Nanaimo in December. Police warn Savidant should be considered violent. (Photo Submitted)
Warrant out for man accused of stolen property offences across Vancouver Island

Jesse Savidant did not appear for court date in Nanaimo last month, say RCMP

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is urging visitors to stay on designated trails after a hiker became injured in an unsanctioned area last week. (Westerly file photo)
Injured hiker rescued in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

Local musician and artist Daisy Melville created a watercolour portrait of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders from the recent American inauguration, and with help from her mom, is now selling t-shirts and more with funds going to the Comox Valley Food Bank. Image submitted
Island artist turns Sanders inauguration meme into art for good

All proceeds from the sale of shirts, sweaters and more will go to the Comox Valley Food Bank

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

Most Read