Hamilton public board votes to rename Ryerson Elementary School

The change follows a motion from Cam Galindo, trustee for Wards 9 and 10 and vice-chair of the board, and calls for an Indigenous consultation process to decide on the building's new name.

Decision follows preliminary findings from a survey at the former residential school in Kamloops

The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board has voted to rename Ryerson Elementary School through a process that will include consultation with local Indigenous communities. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

Hamilton's public school board has voted unanimously to undertake an Indigenous-led process to rename Ryerson Elementary School.

The change follows a motion from Cam Galindo, trustee for Wards 9 and 10 and vice-chair of the board.

Galindo's motion referenced preliminary findings from a survey of the grounds at the former residential school in Kamloops that the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation in B.C. said revealed the remains of 215 children — some as young as three years old.

It described Edgerton Ryerson, who the school was named for, as the "architect of the residential school system in Canada," adding the policy "ripped Indigenous children from their families."

All Indigenous students and staff must feel they belong and their identities are valued and recognized in Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDB) schools, it adds.

The motion didn't stop at Ryerson, also calling for a review of all HWDSB schools named after individuals.

"All HWDSB school names will be reviewed, in the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation, to ensure they reflect our board's mission, vision, values!" Galindo tweeted Monday night following the vote.

"This is a small action that could have a big impact," he said. "It's not just a time for learning and unlearning, and addressing concerns, but a time for action."

HWDSB chair Dawn Danko said the board intends to listen and "create a space" for Indigenous communities to lead steps toward truth and reconciliation.

"We do not want to speak for Indigenous peoples, but wish to walk beside them – to listen and learn from their communities," she stated in a media release. "Our goal is to elevate Indigenous voices as we look to consider the name of Ryerson Elementary, and review the names of all schools across our system."

The search for find a new name for Ryerson will involve "ethical engagement" and consultation with local Indigenous communities, according to Galindo's motion.


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