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Canada After 'McCriminal' nickname catches on, trustees vote to change Ontario school's name

18:42  12 december  2019
18:42  12 december  2019 Source:   nationalpost.com

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A large Ontario school board has decided to rename McCrimmon Middle School after a trustee jokingly used an obscure nickname “They are changing our name for no good reason,” one of them said, claiming a name change would “denigrate” the school ’ s sense of honour and pride in itself.

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a small clock tower in the middle of a park: McCrimmon Middle School in Brampton. A teacher said the nickname “McCriminal” was first used more than a decade ago when there were discipline problems among some of the students.© Google Street View McCrimmon Middle School in Brampton. A teacher said the nickname “McCriminal” was first used more than a decade ago when there were discipline problems among some of the students.

A large Ontario school board has decided to rename McCrimmon Middle School after a trustee jokingly used an obscure nickname, “McCriminal,” giving it a new notoriety as the board grappled with wider complaints about racism and equity.

Some teachers at the small school in Brampton are upset that the move reflects a sense of shame and will erase a proud history of a school apparently bearing the name of a fallen soldier.

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Will Davies, the Peel District School Board trustee whose own children attended McCrimmon, apologized for using the nickname in April in what he said was a private conversation among trustees, and said he never intended racist connotations. Reached by phone Wednesday, he declined to comment.

The board’s integrity commissioner later found the remark did not violate the board’s code of conduct, that it was not an act of racism, and that it was neither “immoral, unethical nor dishonourable.” Integrity Commissioner Sandhya Kohli said Davies used the term thinking it was “humorous slang,” and decided the term is in fact common, similar to other nicknames such as “Pot Credit” for Port Credit or “Meadow Jail” for Meadowvale.

That conclusion was accepted by the board in a controversial 6-4 vote, but did little to alleviate a widening scandal over racism and efforts to combat it.

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To request a formal name change in Ontario , Canada, there are a variety of forms to consider, dependent upon the person requesting the official name change . The service delivery time is six to eight weeks so long as applications are properly completed and shown to be accurate.

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Last month, Stephen Lecce, Ontario’s Minister of Education, announced a review of the entire Peel board in response to concerns about anti-black racism in particular and equity in general.

Poleen Grewal, the board’s associate director of instructional and equity support services, is also pursuing a human rights discrimination case against the board for thwarting her efforts in combating racism in the board.

In that climate, changing a name because of an obscure nickname seems like little more than politically correct face-saving for trustees and the board, according to two McCrimmon teachers of long standing who contacted the National Post on Wednesday, refused to give their names, but confirmed their identities by answering a call to McCrimmon Middle School’s main phone line.

“They are changing our name for no good reason,” one of them said, claiming a name change would “denigrate” the school’s sense of honour and pride in itself.

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The other objected to the inevitable conclusion that the board regards the school’s current name as a source of shame.

“It’s not going to change anything for us except making us look like idiots,” the second teacher said.

One of the teachers said the nickname “McCriminal” was first used more than a decade ago, shortly after the school was founded, when there were discipline problems among some of the students. But the teacher said that period is long past and mostly forgotten.

Today the school is thriving, with a well-liked drumline percussion band that appears in local parades, for example, and several graduates who have gone on to play professional sports in the United States and Europe.

The second teacher said they had not even heard the nickname used in the last decade until recently, and then only by the trustee Davies, whose children no longer attend.

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But now that McCrimmon’s principal has gone class by class discussing the controversy, every child in the school is now aware of the nickname. It is back in circulation.

“They dirtied our laundry to air it,” the teacher said.

The teachers described getting the heads-up from their principal on Wednesday that a public announcement was soon coming. As it turned out, the minutes of the previous day’s board meeting had already been published online. They describe the board voting to change the school’s name “subject to a consultation process, and board approval.”

Principal Dave Blanch did not return a call seeking comment.

In a message to staff, obtained by the National Post, he emphasized that the process set in place “does not confirm a name change, only to begin the process to consider change.” He said a second motion was passed to ensure staff, students and the community will have their say.

A Peel board spokeswoman said that consultation process will start in the new year.

Peel District School Board’s Policy 27 requires that schools be named for the street they are on, the area they serve, “an Indigenous or historical name that once applied to, or is connected to the area,” or a distinguished person.

It says that, at the discretion of the board, a school may be renamed for such reasons as a change in focus, amalgamation, or replacement of the school. A name change requires a majority board approval.

McCrimmon Middle School was established in 2003 and named for the street it is on, McCrimmon Drive.

A history of Peel County compiled to mark its centenary in 1967 lists a Lloyd Ellis McCrimmon from Brampton, a corporal in the Royal Canadian Engineers, who was a member of the nearby St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church and died in action aged 42 in the Second World War on Nov. 17, 1944. He was the son of Norman McCrimmon of Hamilton, and husband of Helen K. McCrimmon of Brampton. He is buried in Hamilton. It could not be immediately confirmed whether he was the namesake of the street and, by extension, the school.

• Email: jbrean@nationalpost.com | Twitter: josephbrean

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