AW Neill Elementary School in Port Alberni. (NEWS FILE PHOTO)

AW Neill Elementary School in Port Alberni. (NEWS FILE PHOTO)

School district to choose new name for AW Neill Elementary in Port Alberni

School will not be renamed after Winston Joseph, says board

The School District 70 (Pacific Rim) board of education will not be renaming AW Neill Elementary School after the late Winston Joseph, but they are hoping to find another way to honour his memory.

In early 2020, the board voted unanimously to remove the name “AW Neill” from the elementary school due to Neill’s role as an Indian Agent in Port Alberni and because of his racist attitude towards Asian immigrants. Although a new name was not selected at the time, the board had already adopted a policy stating that schools will generally not be named after individuals.

READ MORE: A.W. Neill removed from Port Alberni elementary school

After this vote, the board began the process of consulting with the Port Alberni community about a new name for the school. On May 11, 2021, the board gathered virtually to discuss this process.

Superintendent Greg Smyth said that AW Neill’s PAC and students have each been consulted twice. Elected councils for Tseshaht First Nation and Hupacasath First Nation have also provided their feedback and suggestions.

The board also received a petition with more than 600 signatures, encouraging the board to rename the school after the late teacher and community leader Winston Joseph. Joseph, who taught at Neill for 22 years, passed away in April of this year at the age of 89.

READ MORE: Community remembers Winston Joseph with Canada Day parade in April

Smyth explained on Tuesday that while the board does have the ability to rename a school after a worthy individual, all formal consultation that has already taken place has “consistently referenced” the fact that the school will not be named after an individual.

“I would suggest that the board needs to go back and re-engage with others, such as the school community and the local First Nations, with expanded parameters,” said Smyth.

Trustee Connie Watts said she was happy with the process that has taken place so far and didn’t feel comfortable re-opening those discussions.

“I think the process is feeling so good right now with the names that have been given,” she said. “People’s engagement with naming the school seems to have brought the community together, which I think is what we’re looking for.”

Trustee Rosemarie Buchanan agreed with Watts and suggested doing something else to honour Joseph.

“Absolutely I think the board and the district needs to do something significant to honour [Joseph], but…we need to honour the process that we have really put a lot of effort into over the last few years,” said Buchanan.

“I think we need to keep moving forward with the process that we’ve started,” added trustee Chris Washington.

Board chair Pam Craig said that the board will select a new name for the school by June so that it can be ready for the new school year in September.

Two of the most suggested names are Compton and Kitsuksis, after the streets that border AW Neill. Others have suggested Arrowsmith or Tsumaas, which is the Nuu-chah-nulth name for the Somass River.



elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Port AlberniSchools

Just Posted

Douglas Holmes, current Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District chief administrative officer, is set to take on that position at the Regional District of Nanaimo come late August. (Submitted photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo’s next CAO keen to work on building partnerships

Douglas Holmes to take over top administrator role with RDN this summer

AW Neill Elementary School in Port Alberni. (NEWS FILE PHOTO)
SD70 chooses new name for AW Neill School in Port Alberni

New name honours Nuu-chah-nulth Peoples’ connection to region

Ron MacDonald fields questions at a news conference in Halifax on Sept. 27, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Finding ‘comfortable’ indigenous monitor tough task in Tofino-area shooting death

Julian Jones case hampered by difficulty finding a civilian comfortable with privacy protocols

Port Alberni RCMP officer in command Insp. Eric Rochette presents longtime community policing volunteer Louie Aumair with a OIC appreciation certificate. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Port Alberni RCMP honour longtime volunteer

First responders receive support from broader community

The Dock+ is located on Harbour Road in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
PROGRESS 2021: Port Alberni’s food hub still growing a year later

The Dock hopes to open a retail store on Alberni’s busy waterfront

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

Announcement applies to all individuals of First Nations, Inuit and Métis background

Harvesting hay in the Fraser Valley. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
COVID-19: B.C. waives farm income requirement for a second year

Property owners don’t need minimum income for 2022 taxes

A view of the outside of St. Andrews Roman Catholic Cathedral on Victoria’s Blanshard Street. (Don Denton/News staff)
Vancouver Island bishop apologizes for church’s role in residential schools

Bishop Gary Gordon of the Diocese of Victoria voices commitment to healing and reconciliation

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read