Nova Scotia

Sir John A. Macdonald High School to be renamed to reflect inclusivity

The principal of Sir John A. Macdonald High School in Upper Tantallon, N.S., says the school will be renamed to create a more inclusive environment, especially for Indigenous students.

'Our school must be a safe space for all, but a school bearing this name alienates Indigenous students'

The school is being renamed after faculty considered Sir John A. Macdonald's role in the Indian Residential School System and the Indian Act of 1867. (Google Maps)

The principal of Sir John A. Macdonald High School in Upper Tantallon, N.S., says the school will be renamed to create a more inclusive environment, especially for Indigenous students.

"We need to ensure our future generations feel equal and protected. Our school must be a safe space for all, but a school bearing this name alienates Indigenous students," principal Darlene Fitzgerald said in a statement Thursday.

The school, which is about 28 kilometres west of Halifax, was named more than 50 years ago after Canada's first prime minister. But in recent years, Fitzgerald said the school has begun to consider Macdonald's role in the residential school system and the Indian Act of 1867.

"These historic events have caused irreparable harm and trauma to generations of Indigenous peoples in Canada — still to this day," she said.

Fitzgerald said having Sir John A. Macdonald's name on the school has stopped students, families and community members from participating in school events and they feel excluded from the community. (John Robertson/CBC)

She said students, families and community members have said the building's name has stopped them from participating in school events and they feel excluded from the community. 

"Our priority each and every day is to create an inclusive environment where everyone who passes through our doors feels welcome and knows, without question, that they belong," she said.

"Our current name does not align with these values, nor does it reflect our school community."

This is not the first high school in the Halifax region to reconsider its name.

Last December, Prince Andrew High School in Dartmouth, N.S., decided to change its name after a woman accused the royal of forcing her to have sex with him when she was 17. The controversy forced Andrew to step down from his royal duties last November.

The school has not yet been renamed.

Fitzgerald said she is asking students, parents, staff and community members to help rename Sir John A. Macdonald High School by submitting possible names to a sub-committee of the School Advisory Council.

Potential names must be representative of the school's location or community, a person's name, or a name that reflects the cultural and racial diversity of the Halifax Regional Centre for Education.

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