Toronto school named after Queen Victoria may change its name after anti-Black racism
A Toronto school is looking for a fresh start with a new name after a troubling anti-Black racist incident last year.
The name change will be "a fresh start" after devastating challenges over the past year – including anti-Black racism, and the Covid-19 pandemic, the renaming request notes.
The school was founded in Parkdale in 1887, and now serves over 700 students coming from many different countries. Many students have arrived recently in Canada and a name change could better reflect the community, the school's administration indicated in a letter obtained by the National Post.
"The chance to potentially rename a school is an opportunity to teach students about their community's history, leaders and heroes," Matthew Webbe, the principal, and Debbie Donsky, superintendent of education said in the letter to parents.
The ongoing experiences of anti-Black racism relate to an incident last spring.
In April 2020, an anonymous letter surfaced, which targeted Black staff members at the school. The letter was sent to a Black administrator and in it, the author said, "I'm so happy to see you leave. You and your little crew that make everything about black this and black that. So what, white people don't count?"
The letter writer suggested they had Black staff members removed from the school before and "Just have a few more on the list to go."
Toronto Police and the school board launched investigations and a petition to disrupt racism at the school received nearly 20,000 signatures.
The School Council and the Black Student Success Committee hope to start the school renaming early in the 2021/2022 school year.
"Given the concerns expressed by students and staff at Queen Victoria PS, it is believed that engaging in the school renaming process without delay, and in partnership with community members, will support the rebuilding of trust given what has transpired in the school community," the request notes.
The name change request has been approved by the Planning and Priorities Committee, but it must now go to the regular board meeting for final approval on May 26.
If passed, a school naming committee will be formed of trustees, staff school council representatives and a representative of a local ratepayer or recognized umbrella community group, to consider possible names for the school.
In April, the Toronto District School Board approved a motion to review all its school names to better reflect the diversity of the city.
While he didn't have specific numbers, Ryan Bird, manager of corporate and social media relations for Toronto District School Board, tells blogTO the renaming of schools does not happen often.