(Photo by Hannes Hanath/Google)

The results of a survey regarding the potential renaming of George Jay Elementary School show that Victorians are split on how to proceed. 

An Engagement Summary Report released by the Greater Victoria School District (SD61) on November 25th says that nearly 2,500 people responded to an online survey, which tackles a prominent topic in Victoria regarding the names of public schools and monuments.

The survey is one part of a consultation process that began in October 2019 when SD61 announced that they were considering changing the name of the school due to George Jay’s ardent championing of the segregation of Chinese-Canadian students.

Within the survey, 50% of the 2,494 respondents supported changing the name, while 37.09% did not support the change and 12.91% needed to see potential naming options before deciding. 

The results of the survey were presented at a committee meeting on Monday, December 9th, with committee members informed about the voting data as well as proposed new names for the school. 

Among the suggestions were Fernwood Elementary, Cook Street Elementary, or North Park Elementary. Some respondents proposed a name that recognizes traditional First Nations territory or a name that represents the Chinese-Canadian community.

Consultation process

The online consultation began in response to the school’s Parent Advisory Council bringing forth concerns about its namesake, George Jay, who as School Board Chair named the school after himself and was largely responsible for its segregation of Chinese-Canadian students.

SD61 heard from students, parents, teachers, and staff members of the elementary school, as well as local residents and members of the larger community about the potential renaming. 

Some requested information regarding the cost of renaming the school. Others supported renaming the school but only after creating a space or plaque to commemorate George Jay. 

No binding decisions have been made on the subject, as the SD61 Board of Education is responsible for making the final decision. The report does note, however, that the District could potentially appoint an advisory committee to continue consultations and devise new names. 

“We welcome the input from the community to help make decisions regarding if we should change the school name,” said Superintendent Shelley Green in a press release. 

“Whatever decision is ultimately made by the Board of Education has to be consistent with our mission, vision, and values.”