Vancouver school to dump Lord Roberts name after unanimous vote
Members of the Vancouver School Board have voted unanimously to support the renaming of Lord Roberts Elementary in the city's West End neighbourhood.
In moving the motion, trustee Lois Chan-Pedley told the board's Monday night meeting that "the evidence is clear that it is time to give the school a new name."
The school's parent advisory committee has been asking for the renaming since 2019 after exploring the background of the school's namesake, Lord Frederick Roberts, who led the British forces during the Boer War in southern Africa. Roberts was considered one of the most successful British military commanders in 1901 when the school was built, but critics now reject his methods that included the use of concentration camps during the war and the targeting of Indigenous populations while Roberts served in India and Afghanistan.
"When you start to dig in to it a bit you start to realize, well maybe all these guys who were celebrated as British hero’s, don't have a lot to do with education or maybe some of them were celebrated for things we now find pretty horrid,” said Ian Rowe, a member on the Lord Roberts Parent Advisory Council. “The world has just changed a lot in the last 100 plus years."
In supporting the motion to explore a new name, Trustee Janet Fraser thanked parents and staff at the school for creating a detailed biography about Roberts.
She says the information was influential in understanding why "his name and legacy do not reflect where we are in the school district in 2023."
The Vancouver School Board couldn’t say if more requests have been made but that any changes to school names are welcomed.
“We’re committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive district and so when those requests do come forward they will be looked at,” said Vancouver School Board Chair Victoria Jung.
The renaming process will involve a “placed-based name” and possibly with an Indigenous lens.
The PAC hopes the changes will be in place by the start of the new school year in the fall.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Abigail Turner
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