By Neil Armstrong
In a letter to the community, dated May 26, Dr. Debbie Donsky, Superintendent of education, and Darlene Jones, Principal of the school, said the vote, in favour of the renaming, was made at the regular board meeting, held on May 25.
They said, over the course of this school year, they have been sharing information with the community about the process to rename the school.
“The School Naming Committee, in an act of solidarity, recommended merging the two names, Dr. Rita Cox Public School and Kina Minogok (All Things Grow Well Together). The name was chosen, after months of consultation work with the Committee composed.”
Cox says she feels honoured, much humbled, grateful and proud” of this action by the school board.
The suggestion to rename the school was brought forward to the board of trustees in May 2021, and the process was guided by TDSB (Toronto District School Board) policy and procedure (P047 and PR592).
In December, the committee launched a call for submissions for potential new names to replace Queen Victoria PS. More than 150 names were submitted by the community for consideration, and a shortlist was presented for feedback to the community, during a town hall meeting in February of this year.
“We want to thank each one of you for your participation and interest in the renaming process, including those, who came to the town hall, to advocate for their choice of a new name. Your dedication to ensuring the new name reflects the values of the school and the broader community, has been a learning experience for all involved.
“We acknowledge, that although the proposed name is worthy of celebration, we also recognize that major fundamental changes to curriculum and culture are required to bring about the desired outcomes. Our sustained growth depends on the continued engagement in the learning and listening that began this name change. We look forward to continuing this work with the school community,” said the school officials.
Queen Victoria Public School, an inner-city school serving over 700 students, coming from many different countries, was founded in Parkdale in 1887. A new school was built in 1999. Many of the students are relatively new immigrants to Canada.
Dr. Cox joined the Toronto Public Library as a children’s librarian in 1960 and, in 1972, became the Head of the Parkdale branch. In 1973, she pioneered the Black Heritage and West Indian Resource Collection at the branch. It was subsequently established at three other branches: York Woods, 1984; Cedarbrae, 1989; Maria A. Shchuka, 2003.
The Trinidad and Tobago-born veteran librarian retired from the Toronto Public Library in 1995, having served as Head of Parkdale for over 20 years.
In 1998, the important resource was renamed the Black and Caribbean Heritage Collection, and two years later, renamed in honour of its founder — the Rita Cox Black and Caribbean Heritage Collection. The Rita Cox Endowment Fund is established within the Toronto Public Library Foundation to support and enhance the growth of the Collection.
A park bearing her name — The Rita Cox Park — is on Machells Avenue, just north of Lamport Stadium.