Thursday, February 9, 2023
Home New Release Vancouver’s Sir Matthew Begbie Elementary officially renamed ‘wək̓ʷan̓əs tə syaqʷəm’

Vancouver’s Sir Matthew Begbie Elementary officially renamed ‘wək̓ʷan̓əs tə syaqʷəm’

An elementary school in Vancouver has become the latest to replace its name with an Indigenous one, as governments and communities work to decolonize public places.

Sir Matthew Begbie Elementary School’s new name, wək̓ʷan̓əs tə syaqʷəm, was unveiled in a ceremony Friday with the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) First Nation on Friday.

In English, the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓-language phrase means “the sun rising over the horizon.”

The name was chosen in recognition of the Hastings Sunrise neighbourhood, where the school is located, according to a news release from the Musqueam Indian Band and Vancouver School District.

Read more:

B.C. man funds scholarship after effort to strip controversial name from alma mater falls flat

Speaking at the ceremony, Elder Larry Grant asked students and staff to look up Sir Matthew Begbie, the first Supreme Court judge in British Columbia, also known as the “Hanging Judge.”

Story continues below advertisement

In 1864, Begbie pronounced death sentences for five Tsilhqot’in men found guilty of murder by a jury of white men. The Tsilhqot’in leaders had defended their territories from the settlers of the day, who sought land and gold, refused to pay their people for labour, and brought them close to starvation.

The five men were exonerated in 2014 by the B.C. government, and in 2018, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized to the Tsilhqot’in people for the wrongful conviction and hanging of the chiefs.

Click to play video: 'B.C. man funds scholarship after effort to rename school with controversial name falls flat'

B.C. man funds scholarship after effort to rename school with controversial name falls flat

“If you do not have the truth behind it, it is meaningless. It is not reconciliation. You must hear the truth however it happened,” Grant told the crowd.

He taught the students how to pronounce their school’s new name and thanked them for their enthusiastic participation.

Story continues below advertisement

“This is something that I think is so important that we have with our young children, being able to accept us as fellow human beings,” he said.

“They will be the ones coming forward and teaching their elders about humanity.”

Read more:

Trustee calls for Vancouver school to be renamed after Chinese-Canadian leader

For thousands of years, Musqueam people spoke hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓, but according to Chief yəχʷyaχʷələq (Wayne Sparrow), there are no more fluent speakers in the nation.

“Being asked to share our language with partners and provide hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ names to replace names associated with colonization, is an important step toward rights recognition, reconciliation and hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ revitalization,” he said in the release.

“Musqueam looks forward to continuing to strengthen our relationship with VSB and schools throughout our territory.”

Click to play video: 'Vancouver city council votes to change Trutch Street name'

Vancouver city council votes to change Trutch Street name

Across Canada, a number of schools, parks, public buildings and street names have changed to dissociate from colonizing figures linked with racism, hatred and violence, particularly directed towards First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Various statues have been torn down as well.

Story continues below advertisement

Vancouver’s former Trutch Street in Kitsilano, for example, was recently renamed Musqueamview Street in English and šxʷməθkʷəy̓əmasəm in hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓. The old Village of Queen Charlotte also reverted to its ancestral name, Daajing Giids, in July. On Vancouver Island, a group of Grade 4 students successfully lobbied the provincial government to change ‘John Dean Provincial Park’ to ȽÁU,WELṈEW̱.

In Vancouver, efforts to rename Gladstone Secondary School, however, have not yet succeeded. The school was named after the late 19th century U.K. prime minister William Gladstone, who supported the gradual abolition of slavery over immediate emancipation, and helped his father obtain compensation for more than 2,500 slaves after abolition in 1834.

Read more:

‘She deserved recognition’: BC Sports Hall of Fame supports push for ‘Barbara Howard Elementary’

At the ceremony in Hastings Sunrise, Vancouver School Board Supt. Helen McGregor called the school’s new name “a gift.”

“My appreciation for this opportunity and I will share this with so many people, the importance of this day,” she said, having been designated as a “witness” to the event, to record its oral history.

The school has approximately 330 students from kindergarten to Grade 7.

&copy 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

London Knights edge Kitchener Rangers 5-4 for their sixth straight victory

You don’t have to lead for long to win a hockey game. Denver Barkey’s goal with exactly 32 seconds remaining in regulation time gave the...

Getting COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy helps protect newborns: study

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 during pregnancy passes along protection against infection and hospitalization to newborns, a Canadian study says. The research, published in the BMJ...

Give tax break so small Canadian firms can invest in cybersecurity, Parliament told

Ottawa should deploy a wide range of strategies, including tax breaks, to encourage small businesses to take cybersecurity more seriously, a member of a...

Texas man pleads guilty to federal charges in 2019 El Paso Walmart mass shooting

A Texas man pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal hate crime and weapons charges in the racist attack at an El Paso Walmart in 2019,...