Vancouver trustees vote to remove Cecil Rhodes monument from local school

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      In the end, there was no disagreement among Vancouver school trustees about a controversial monument at L'École Bilingue on the city's West Side.

      Tonight, they all voted in favour of a motion by OneCity's Jennifer Reddy to remove a plaque highlighting its former name: Cecil Rhodes School.

      The tile-based monument was placed by the basketball court and remained there for a year after the parent advisory council had requested its removal.

      It was only recently that the school covered it in plywood in response to an uproar in the community.

      Rhodes, the founder of the De Beers diamond empire, was a notorious racist and 19th-century British imperialist. The racist country of Rhodesia was named after him—and it only came to be known as Zimbabwe after a 25-year freedom struggle by those of African ancestry.

      Critics of the Cecil Rhodes plaque say that he set the stage for the introduction of apartheid in South Africa.

      After Reddy's motion passed, she followed up with an urgent motion asking that the school board acknowledge "the systems failure", which allowed the plaque to "go debated by school staff and board members as neutral, historic, and educational".

      This urgent motion, which also passed unanimously, directs staff to report on how the monument was placed on the school property in 2017 after it was retrieved from storage following a seismic upgrade.

      L'École Bilingue was formerly named after profiteer Cecil Rhodes, who ruthlessly exploited Southern Africa in the 19th century.
      UBC Longhouse

      Moreover, the motion calls for the board to provide "information about the decision-makers, full invoices and contractors". And the board must present a plan for reconciliation with the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of colour) community, parent advisory council, educators, trustees, and students "in order to take responsibility and reconcile".

      In the future, as a result of Reddy's emergency motion, the lens of reconciliation and antiracism will be applied in a revision of the board's renaming policy.