WRDSB Trustee Subcommittee to Review School Names through Anti-Racist Lens

Waterloo Region District School Board Education Centre. Photo by WRDSB Twitter (@wrdsb).

On October 19th, trustees with the Waterloo Region District School Board passed a motion to strike a committee to review school names board-wide through an anti-racist lens.

They have launched a committee of trustees composed of Kathleen Woodcock, Carol Millar and Jayne Herring to tackle the issue. According to trustee Scott Piatkowski, “Trustees were concerned that some existing school names may be seen as insensitive to Indigenous or racialized communities.” 

Kathleen Woodcock, one of the trustees on the committee, further describes, “The Board has acknowledged that racism and racial harassment exist within the WRDSB (see the motion of October 19, 2020). With this acknowledgement, comes a responsibility to take action. This review is an action that trustees can take as a first step to address the racism and racial harassment in the system.”

In August, the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario voted on a motion demanding all school’s in the province named after Sir John A Macdonald be renamed.

With WRDSB having a secondary school in Waterloo with the name, the committee has decided to review it along with other schools even though they have not specifically mentioned it is because of the Sir John A Macdonald name.

The problem with the name Sir John A Macdonald, in particular, is his racist past against the Indigenous people of Canada. Katie Dangerfield from Global news describes his role in the mistreatment of indigenous people in this way: “He set up treaties and broke them, starved thousands of people on reserves, and was the architect for the relationship between Canada and First Nations […] and the racism still festers today”

According to Piatkowski, the trustee committee was originally supposed to report their recommendations in February but that was deemed too soon and a new timeline will be announced.