Trustees of the Limestone District School Board (LDSB) voted unanimously to initiate a renaming process for École Sir John A. Macdonald Public School at its regular meeting on June 16, 2021.
“Changing the name of this school will have a powerful impact on how Indigenous and racialized students see themselves,” says LSDB Chair Suzanne Ruttan. “We look forward to a consultation and renaming process that honours equity, diversity, and inclusivity, and ensures all students, families and staff feel safe and welcome. This is one small step to demonstrate our commitment to Truth and Reconciliation, and having all students see themselves in Limestone.”
A motion, put forward by Trustee Garrett Elliott and seconded by Trustee Bob Godkin, directs board staff to initiate a renaming process that will include stakeholder consultation, specifically the Indigenous Education Advisory Committee. “The indigenous advisory committee is made up of, obviously, indigenous people in our community. It is headed by our Associate Superintendent Scott Gillam. And we try to share our initiatives with that committee and get their feedback from that indigenous point of view,” explained Ruttan.
Since the motion asks the process to “include a stance on reconciliation, decolonization, anti-racism, and anti-oppression principles,” Kingstonist enquired about the members of that committee. LSDB Communications Officer Karen Smith further explained, “The Indigenous Education Advisory Committee is an advisory committee that reports back to the Board of Trustees. So as the chair mentioned, these are individuals within the community who have, and it’s a joint committee, who may have an interest in indigenous matters who self identify as indigenous leaders in the community.”
In a follow-up email, she clarified, “The Indigenous Education Advisory Committee includes representatives from the Mohawks Bay of Quinte, the Métis Nation of Ontario, Algonquin First Nation, Katarokwi Grandmothers’ Council as well as Indigenous families and the Indigenous Student Trustee. There may be a few other groups not included in this list.”
The renaming process will begin in September once school resumes.
Trustees also voted on a second motion by Area Trustee Godkin to remove the current school name effective June 30, 2021, and use “École Kingston East Elementary School” until a new name is chosen. Kingston East Elementary School was the placeholder name used while the school was under construction.
In May 2021, the board decided that going forward the Indigenous Lead should be a Vice-Principal position, starting in 2021-2022, to oversee the many facets of Indigenous Education and to provide direct supervision and support to staff supporting Indigenous education. Preference will be given to Indigenous candidates in the hiring process.
“The Board of Trustees acknowledges the ongoing pain and harm related to the use of that name within our school communities but particularly with Indigenous members,” says Ruttan. “Removing the current name at the end of the school year is a timely way to begin the healing process while planning for meaningful consultation with the Indigenous community, students, families and staff.”