Delegates to the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) Annual Meeting last week approved a motion that ETFO call upon all school boards to rename schools and buildings named after Sir John A. Macdonald.
The motion recognizes that Macdonald has been celebrated based on an incomplete version of Canadian history. As a central architect of the Indian Act and residential schools, Macdonald played a key role in developing systems that perpetuated genocide against Indigenous people. Passing this motion recognizes the impact this history has on all of our students, but specifically on Indigenous students, parents and educators.
“Our mandate is to support positive learning environments; safe and healthy schools for all of our students. What will our students understand about history if they are asked to learn in a school named after a major figure in the history of colonization and residential schools?” asked President Sam Hammond.
“We want to open up an honest conversation about historic injustice and its impact on the present day,” said President Hammond. “In the spirit of truth and reconciliation, we are asking school boards to consider changing the names of these buildings in recognition of the powerful impact our learning environments have on how our students see themselves.”
ETFO is committed to the recommendations made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Our work includes developing curriculum and other resources for educators from Kindergarten to Grade 8 that introduce First Nations, Métis and Inuit histories and realities in age-appropriate ways.
Wynne Responds to Union Resolution
Premier Kathleen Wynne released a statement in response to the resolution’s passage. She believes the question should be about meaningful reconciliation with First Nations. “We need to teach our children the full history of this country- including colonialism, indigenous peoples and their history and what our founders did to create Canada to make it the country it is today,” she said.
Progressive Conservative (P.C.) leader Patrick Brown tweeted saying “I’m proud to have the names of Canada’s founding fathers on Ontario Schools.” Macdonald is known as one of the fathers of Confederation. He was the country’s first Prime Minister serving from 1867-1873.