New high school, new name in Amherstburg

A new high school is being built on Simcoe Street in the Town of Amherstburg, Ont. on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021. (Michelle Maluske/CTV Windsor)

The $24-million high school being built in town will not have the name Amherst on it.

In a virtual committee meeting Monday, members voted against using the word Amherst or Amherstburg in their final list of names for consideration.

Its comes as a relief to Theresa Sims, with the Ska: Na Learning Centre.

“He (General Amherst) was an advocate for germ warfare against First Nations,” says Sims. “He wanted to use the smallpox blankets and share them with the First Nations in a way to eradicate us.”

The current high school is named after General Jeffery Amherst, a member of the British Army in the late 1700s.

According to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Amherst gave one of his Colonels’ “the detestable suggestion” to give smallpox to “dissident” members of the indigenous people in Canada.

Read Amherst’s biography here.

Sims says she would be happy with any name on the high school that reflected indigenous people or the area’s ties to the Underground Railroad.

“That’s good,” says Sims. “At least they’re recognizing people of colour which they haven’t for a very long time.”

The naming committee started with a list of 16 school names, and dwindled it down to four:

-North Star

-South West Unity

-South West Alliance

-Great Sauk Trail

The Board of Trustees of the Greater Essex County District School Board will now consider the four names, and make a final decision at an upcoming meeting.

The new high school in Amherstburg is now under construction and is slated to open to students in Fall 2022.

It will consolidate students from Western Secondary and General Amherst High School.