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

September 14, 2022

By Vancouver Sun |

A Vancouver man is funding a new scholarship celebrating a Chinese Canadian leader after unsuccessfully trying to change the controversial name of his alma mater.

Tim Chu graduated from Gladstone Secondary School in 2006 and said he received an “unsatisfactory” response from the Vancouver School Board (VSB) when he requested the school be renamed in 2020.

By email, he had suggested it be named after the late celebrated novelist Wayson Choy, a Gladstone graduate and one of the first openly gay, racialized writers to achieve mainstream literary success in Canada.

“I think (the VSB) hid behind policies, processes, various pilot programs, and it’s been many years that have gone by and we still have the name of the school,” Chu said in a Wednesday interview.

“So one of the things I thought I could do to take action into my own hands is create a scholarship for a graduating student.”

Gladstone Secondary School is named after the late 19th century U.K. prime minister William Gladstone. Gladstone 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.

In 2018, the VSB convened a group to review its process for naming new schools and renaming old ones, recognizing the legacy of some of the historical figures already chosen “may no longer align with the value of school communities today.” Updated guidelines were developed in 2022, and the VSB said it has not received a request to rename Gladstone Secondary as outlined in that policy.

“The District is committed to following a clear, transparent, inquiry-based process where historical names can be reviewed and considered for possible change,” wrote district spokesperson Jiana Ling by email.

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