By Desiree Miller
I’d like to address the Patti Bacchus article "Renaming Crosstown elementary a chance for Vancouver School Board to do the right thing". Her opinions were one-sided, insulting, and out of touch. She completely dismissed the residents and families living in this neighbourhood and the fact that the name Crosstown is perfectly reasonable and appropriate for this new and thriving community.
In addition, Bacchus’s op-ed, plus the actions of certain members of the school board, come across as political virtue-signalling, partisan politics, and sour grapes, rather than sound and responsible governance—especially in light of the upcoming municipal election. She is injecting far too many social issues into this subject, and the children and community of Crosstown are now paying the price.
Crosstown has become a meaningful name for a new school in an evolving part of Vancouver. Not only does it represent people of diverse ethnicities, lifestyles, and socioeconomic backgrounds who work and attend the school, it also includes the collective communities from the surrounding areas of Gastown, Railtown, Downtown Eastside, West End, Downtown, Yaletown, and Chinatown.
The parents at the school who are fighting for the Crosstown name represent a range of origins, including the Philippines, Brazil, Thailand, Russia, Japan, First Nations, Poland, Iran, India, Taiwan, and China, just to name a few. We want this name because it's inclusive to all of us.
Here are some facts that are important for people to know about the name Crosstown elementary and how it came to be.
The Crosstown name went through an extensive naming process and 39 names qualified as per VSB policy. Following considerable discussion and a democratic voting process, a consensus was reached by the naming committee for Crosstown elementary. It was also decided to include a second Indigenous name to honour the Aboriginal history of the land. This is something we are excited about and have been working on finalizing—until now.
Most of the families of Crosstown have been living in the area for many years. We chose to remain in the city and raise our kids in smaller spaces because we love the diverse neighbourhood and the lifestyle it provides. Although the facility itself may be new, the community and culture of Crosstown elementary have been in place for a long time.
Bacchus dismisses us as “not exactly what I’d call a community with deep, meaningful roots and attachments”. Personally, I’ve lived in this neighbourhood for 12 years, which may not be a long stretch compared to a historical span of life, but for my family it defines a timeline that has included getting settled in Vancouver, budding my career, my marriage, having and raising three children, and establishing a home in this city. To me, that counts as some pretty important roots. And this is the story of many families who attend our school.
Trustee Allan Wong did not reach out to the Crosstown parent advisory committee before putting a motion forward to rename our school. The VSB speaks of building a community yet Wong did not consider the people who are actually living in it.
Since this issue came to light, countless hours have been spent discussing the possible renaming of our school. Parents have missed work and time with family to challenge this issue, and I can’t even fathom the working hours that the VSB must be spending on a decision that has already been legally made.
The cost burden for a name change is a waste to taxpayers and incredibly onerous (i.e. signage, thousands of library books to relabel, banking information, letterheads, updating templates, et cetera.)
The students, teachers, and parents at Crosstown have put their heart and soul into building a culture and community. Our kids have been through so much change since the first discussions of a new school, attending temporary schools and operating under International Village at the time. We are finally settled, and we’ve worked on building our own Crosstown code of conduct, school rap song, school groups, and identity.
Finally, I think this rap song that our resource teacher Trevor Mills created with the students, says it all. This was written and produced before we knew anything about a possible name change. We feel it expresses what Crosstown means to our community.
Whether this matter immediately affects you or not, help us hold the VSB accountable to its own policies, sign our petition, and send a message to stop wasting valuable taxpayers time and money, and let us keep our identity as Crosstown elementary.