(Photo by Hannes Hanath/Google)

The Greater Victoria School District has launched an online survey to gauge community feedback on the idea of of changing the name of Fernwood’s George Jay Elementary School.

The online consultation is in response to the school’s Parent Advisory Council bringing forth concerns about its namesake, George Jay, who advocated for the segregation of Chinese-Canadian students.

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Jay immigrated to Victoria from England in the late 1800s and went on to become the chair of the city school board for 27 years, later playing a key role in the establishment of Victoria College.

However a book published by historian Timothy J. Stanley in 2011 reveals that he helped develop a policy of banning students of Chinese heritage from schools unless they knew fluent English.

This policy was then applied to all Chinese-Canadian students, regardless of their proficiency in English.

Name change consultation

“Our District recognizes and values the diversity of our school population and in no way condones the racist historic practices by some of our predecessors,” said present day Board Chair, Jordan Watters, in a press release.

“As we develop a better understanding of institutional racism and the role of the education system, it’s essential that we have conversations as a community in order to determine the best way to address historical wrongs and forge a positive path forward.”

The online survey, which can be found here, is being monitored in addition to an open house consultation that will be held on Wednesday, November 6th at 6 p.m. in the gymnasium at George Jay Elementary.

Once the consultation process is over, the school district will forward the results to the Board of Education to help inform and guide the next steps.

The online survey is open for two weeks and will close at 4 p.m. on October 31st.