Winnipeg school named after apartheid figure Cecil Rhodes gets new name

A Winnipeg school named after a man linked to apartheid in 19th century Africa is being renamed after years of discussion.

Winnipeg’s Cecil Rhodes School – in the city’s Weston neighbourhood – will now be named Keewatin Prairie Community School, the school division revealed Wednesday.

Cecil Rhodes was a British imperialist who served as prime minster in the late 19th century in what is known today as South Africa.

A petition calling for the school to be renamed was launched in 2020.

Winnipeg School Division (WSD) trustees voted to change the school’s name last year.

The new name will take effect Sept. 1, 2022. The school’s signage will be updated for that date as well.

“We’re very pleased to have a name that was chosen based on careful consideration and acknowledgement of the Truth and Reconciliation process,” said Betty Edel, chair of the WSD board of trustees.

“We took the time necessary to ensure that changing the name of Cecil Rhodes was a community decision, and that the appropriate stakeholders were consulted and included in the choice of the new name.”

WATCH from January 2021: New survey on renaming Cecil Rhodes School

Keewatin Prairie Community School is a nursery to Grade 9 school with just over 500 students.

The WSD says the new name honours Cree and Ojibwe languages because Keewatin means “the land of the northwest wind”.

The school board says it received many survey responses for the renaming of the school, with the words “prairie” and “community” appearing in several choices from staff and students.

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