Amherstburg’s new school officially named North Star High School
The Windsor-Essex English Public School Board has chosen a name for the new high school under construction in Amherstburg.
It will be called North Star High School.
Greater Essex County District School Board Public administrators made the decision Tuesday night, based on a recommendation from a nominating committee.
There has been controversy in the community, with some people wanting “Amherstburg” to be included in the name, while others felt it would be inappropriate because General Jeffrey Amherst advocated the use of blankets to convey the smallpox to indigenous peoples in the 1700s.
“Change is a challenge and it is filled with tension,” said Alicia Higgison, Chairman of the Board.
“What these comments have shown me is that we have the opportunity, as an educational institution, to ensure that we focus and reach out to our communities very broadly with lessons from Indigenous history, by raising Indigenous and racialized voices and the real reality of how our past is connected to our future, and that there is a lot of work to be done here. “
Amherstburg administrator Ron LeClair said North Star made sense for several reasons, including the fact that Amherstburg was a destination on the Underground Railroad, when runaway slaves followed the North Star to freedom. .
“I say there is a lot of support in the town of Amherstburg for a name other than the name Amherstburg,” said LeClair.
“I understand why some people still hold onto the Amherstburg name, but what is important to me is that in the end I had the support of the other directors to make it happen.”
Tramaine Whited, who served on the nominating committee, said her goal was to ensure the name does not reflect General Amherst or any derivative of the Amherst name.
“I did my own research, spoke to a lot of people in the community… surprisingly, most of them didn’t know the story behind the name,” Whited said.
“I think this whole situation has shed a lot of light on this and General Amherst’s history in the region.”
However, the Amherstburg resident said she was ambivalent about the new name and most people won’t understand the Pole Star’s context for those fleeing slavery.
“I think there are a number of names they could have used to draw attention to this point,” Whited said.
“I think it’s just North Star, I don’t think a lot of people will understand the meaning. I think as long as they’re clear on their explanation and reasoning, that’s great. When you hear it. that name, you don’t immediately draw that conclusion unless you are clearly from the community and understand it. “
The $ 25 million school is currently under construction.
It will replace both General Amherst and Western High Schools.