Tuesday, February 5, 2013

New VSB school might be named after well known Musqueam Elder!

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Tuesday, February 5th, a meeting of the Vancouver School Board (VSB) school naming ad hoc advisory committee was held.  This committee was struck to review and recommend to the School Board potential names for the new kindergarten to grade 8 school now being built on the site of the old University Hill Secondary School (UHS recently moved to it’s new building and location at 16th and West Mall). I had the privilege to sit on this committee as a community member participant.  My appointment was made through the UNA.

The committee met once in late November to receive directions on how the VSB proceeds on the matter of naming a new school.  Then VSB’s communication department set up an online form to solicit suggestions for a name.  More than 200 submissions suggesting over 30 different names were received!  Apparently the last time a new school was named in Vancouver only 4 or 5 submissions were received.  It is refreshing to see all the interest and excitement.  

At the meeting two names stood out: Rose Point School or Acadia School.

Strong committee support was present for naming the school after Rose Point, the well known and highly respected late Musqueam Elder who touched many lives here at UBC, in her own community, and far beyond over the course of her life.  Rose passed away July 2012.

Rose Point was, by all accounts, an amazing person.  Originally from Seabird Island near Mission, Rose spent much of her adult life advocating for education and human rights. Educational philosopher Nel Noddings advocates a pedagogy of care: Rose embodied this ideal through her commitment to education for all people. Colleagues in my department at UBC speak with warmth about the ways that Rose touched their lives. 

Rose touched many lives, not just those here at UBC - she worked tirelessly in her home community of Musqueam to see the rights of her people respected; she advocated for all children –no matter where they were from- in our public schools; she provided educational support at BCIT and mentorship to students at UBC; she was a life long learner, mentor and teacher.  All through the education world in Vancouver and beyond the mention of Rose's name brings forth warm recollections. 

It would be really amazing and wonderful if the school board does indeed decide to place Rose Point's name upon the new school here on the unceded traditional lands of the Musqueam people.

The other name, Acadia, was strongly supported by the school’s current parent community and by their young children.  Acadia was supported because it is the name that the current children are familiar with (Acadia Road School has been the temporary name for the school in it’s temporary location on the grounds of Queen Elizabeth Elementary School) and is the road along which the new school is to be built.  

With the long history of colonial-settler based names on our schools in Vancouver it seems to me only right that this very special new school have a name that speaks to everyone, that reflects the historical and cultural significance of where we are currently located, and that it does so by honouring a women who saw the value in being inclusive of all peoples.  I do hope that the Vancouver School Board will be able to honour our place and our future through their selection of a new school name for the areas newest school!

The matter now passes to the VSB staff who will prepare a report to the facilities standing committee. The standing committee will review the staff report and then make a decision as to the new school name.  The standing committee’s decision will then be forwarded to the school board for the final decision.

My previous blogs on this issue can be read here:
http://universitytown.blogspot.ca/search?updated-max=2012-12-15T16:20:00-08:00&max-results=4

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

http://centrepage.net/acadia/index.php?8

What's in a Name?

Melanie Antweiler, PhD
PAC Chair, Acadia Road School, and parent representative to the "Naming Committee"


Summary
The process to "name" the established school already known as "Acadia Road Elementary School" is deeply flawed and biased. Any decision to impose a new name on the school will ignore the fact that the school is in its second year of operation. The errors include, inter alia:

- the decision to treat and advertise this as naming a school which will open in 2014, rather than as renaming a school which already exists, albeit in temporary and substandard facilities;
-the subsequent applications of policies to name the school deliberately excluded those who already comprise the extant school: the pupils, the staff, the parents and families; the policies regarding renaming schools requires participation of the school community;
- the nebulous composition of the "Naming Committee";
- technological weaknesses with respect to the "Name That School!" website and online submission form;
- biased communications through the media, advertising, and the "Name That School!" website;
- an apparent organised lobbying campaign, spearheaded by one member of the "Naming Committee";
- a lack of clear Terms of Reference to govern the workings of the committee, the mechanisms of decision-making, and the expectations placed on the members with respect to their roles as "representatives" of specific constituent groups.

As a result of these many failings, no new name must be imposed upon the school at this point. Should the current name be considered unacceptable - and a compelling case made for this - the policies to rename schools must be applied and the established school community included. Indeed, this would present an opportunity to further cultivate school culture and promote community-building.

A second new elementary school will be built in the UBC area within the next few years; the names suggested under this process should be carried over for consideration for the next new school.