Pressure grows to rename Vancouver secondary school after female role model

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — There is growing pressure on the Vancouver School Board to rename a secondary school named after a “violent and discriminatory leader.”

Gladstone Secondary is named for William Gladstone, a 19th century British Prime Minister who belonged to a slave-owning family.

As we celebrate Black History Month, Dr. Joy Masuhara, who is the co-chair of Women Transforming Cities,  is joining a growing chorus of voices calling for the school board to rename Gladstone Secondary, preferably after a woman.

“His name has been taken off all public institutions in England, and even his hometown. We think public places need to be named after diverse women,” she explains.

RELATED: Local MP calls for school named after UK politician who spoke against abolishment of slavery to be changed

Of the 109 schools in Vancouver, Masuhara says only a handful are named after women.

“We think we need to we need to celebrate our diversity in this city, this province, into this nation … and [recognize] particularly women who are very underrepresented in main places,” she says.

But she notes there is already a push to name the school after former BC MLA Rosemary Brown, the first Black woman elected to a Canadian provincial legislature.

Brown, who died in 2003, was also the first Black woman to run for the leadership of a federal party.

“I went to this school. Did I know who Gladstone was? No. Did I really care to know who he was? No. … But if the school is named after Rosemary Brown, I would take notice,” she says.

“And I think it would have an impact — definitely on me as a … racialized woman. So I think these are all good reasons.”

In a release, Women Transforming Cities says it believes schools, like Gladstone Secondary, should be named in honour of Black, Indigenous, Asian, racialized and other women.

“When we talk about Rosemary Brown, she is one of many many great women leaders that been part of our part of our history. So there’s many other Indigenous women, many other people of colour, that deserve to have some recognition, and that have been role models,” Masuhara adds.

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