Parents at George Jay Elementary are advocating for the change of the school’s name after learning of its namesake’s history. (File photo)

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

The namesake was an advocate for the segregation of Chinese-Canadian students

Parents at George Jay Elementary are advocating for the change of the school’s name after learning of its namesake’s history.

George Jay was born in England and immigrated with his parents to Victoria in the late 1800s. He became a lawyer, and was elected to the city school board in 1905, becoming the chair shortly after and holding the role for 27 years. He held several roles as a city magistrate, and was also instrumental in the establishment of Victoria College, which later became the University of Victoria.

Despite his impressive resume, he held darker tones as well. In the short book, Contesting White Supremacy- school segregation, anti-racism and the making of Chinese-Canadians, author and historian Timothy J. Stanley reveals that George Jay was instrumental in instilling racial segregation of Chinese-Canadians at the school. The book was published through the University of British Columbia in 2011, though Stanley is now a professor at the University of Ottawa.

ALSO READ: Loss of music room at George Jay Elementary School hits sour note with PAC

According to the book:

“[George Jay] suggested that the board return to its 1907 policy that ‘no Chinese be admitted to the schools unless they know English sufficient to make them amenable to ordinary class room discipline,” and that “Chairman Jay had long made his career by advocating segregation and had in fact helped develop the 1907 policy.”

The segregation was applied to all students of Chinese heritage, even if they spoke perfect English. This sparked a year-long strike from Victoria’s Chinese community.

Despite all the uproar, Jay decided to name the school after himself in 1910.

After learning about this history, George Jay Elementary Parent Advisory Council (PAC) president, Angela Cooper-Carmichael was outraged.

“Isn’t it time to change these irrelevant colonial names? The land that George Jay sits on is unceded, so it’s still the transitional land of the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations,” she said.

“The student population is so diverse at George Jay now, but he wouldn’t have allowed half of our students to attend.”

ALSO READ: South Park parents disapointed in SD61’s decision to remove programs of choice

Cooper-Carmichael reached out directly to Stanley for more information, and has since also reached out to the Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations, the City of Victoria and Victoria’s Chinese community for more input on what they think should be done.

She’s also bringing the idea to an upcoming PAC meeting for an official vote, and to the upcoming Operations and Planning Meeting for the Greater Victoria School District on Sept. 16.

Cooper-Carmichael said so far most parents, and representative members of the First Nations she’s spoken with are interested in pursuing the change.

“When do you think history began?” she said. “It’s not with colonization. We have a rich history that reaches far beyond George Jay and you and me, and that’s a history we should share.”

The PAC will put its decision to a vote on Sept. 11.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

Just Posted

Victoria resident faces discrimination from BC Transit since transitioning to a wheelchair

Daniel Sands says they are often not allowed on buses, even when there is room

Single dad reaches out to Greater Victoria community to help kids celebrate Christmas

A young family was overwhelmed with the warm response from strangers

North Saanich woman arrested after police pursuit, alleged abduction at elementary school

Two police officers were injured and one police vehicle damaged

Thief targets staff rooms at Victoria businesses

Surveillance shows man entering staff room where several items were reported stolen

VIDEO: More air-passenger rights go into effect this weekend

The first set of passenger rights arrived in mid-July in Canada

Navigating ‘fever phobia’: B.C. doctor gives tips on when a sick kid should get to the ER

Any temperature above 38 C is considered a fever, but not all cases warrant a trip to the hospital

POLL: Do you have a real or artificial Christmas tree?

The lights are up, holiday shoppers are bustling through the streets and… Continue reading

Swoop airlines adds three destinations in 2020 – Victoria, Kamloops, San Diego

Low-fair subsidiary of WestJet Airlines brings new destinations in April 2020

Transportation Safety Board finishes work at B.C. plane crash site, investigation continues

Transport Canada provides information bulletin, family of victim releases statement

Trudeau sets 2025 deadline to remove B.C. fish farms

Foes heartened by plan to transition aquaculture found in Fisheries minister mandate letter

Wagon wheels can now be any size! B.C. community scraps 52 obsolete bylaws

They include an old bylaw regulating public morals

Suspect steals 150 pairs of cosmetic contacts from Nanaimo party supply store

Incident happened at Pattie’s Party Palace on Rutherford Road on Thursday

Indigenous mother wins $20,000 racial discrimination case against Vancouver police

Vancouver Police Board ordered to pay $20,000 and create Indigenous-sensitivity training

Most Read