Amherstburg’s new high school covered in graffiti

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Someone has sprayed black paint on the cinder block wall of the new dual track high school being built on Simcoe Street in Amherstburg.

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“Amherstburg High School” was sprayed in large letters on a south-facing wall and caught the attention of a passerby on Monday.

“It’s so sad,” said Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo. “It does not set a good example for our young people, on a building where our young people will go.”

The community protested over the name of the new school.

The city is more than who it is named after

A nominating committee tasked with providing suggestions to Greater Essex County District School Board Trustees was told by board officials that their preferred choice of Amherstburg District would not be accepted.

Halfway through the process, the committee was asked to focus on names reflecting truth and reconciliation to indigenous peoples.

Amherstburg High School is seen spray painted on the public high school under construction in the town of Amherstburg on Monday, September 27, 2021. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

“I have heard from both sides of the issues and first of all, both sides are extremely passionate about their positions,” said DiCarlo.

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One segment wants the school to be named after the community, as has been the case for Belle River District, Essex District and Leamington District.

Others believe that having Amherstburg in the name is offensive and insensitive in light of the treatment of the namesake Lord Jeffrey Amherst of Indigenous peoples as a British commander.

“Combining two high schools would be an opportunity to lose the name and resolve the indigenous issues associated with it,” said DiCarlo.

The new high school will replace both General Amherst and Western Secondary.

DiCarlo said he and city council members have heard a lot about the issue in recent weeks.

“I would remind people that this is a decision of the school board,” he said. “Not a city decision.”

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A spokesperson for the council said filing a report with the police would be up to the contractor.
“The property is in the possession of the contractor – until substantial completion,” said Scott Scantlebury.

Ben Vanderloo is the project manager for Fortis Construction.

“If they didn’t harm anything, we wouldn’t file a police report,” he said. “I’m going to have to talk to my guy on the spot, but we’ll probably cover him up.”

  1. The concept drawing shows the plans for the double school in Amherstburg.

    Amherstburg school nominating committee in turmoil

  2. Portrait of General Jeffery Amherst

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  3. The concept drawing shows the plans for the double school in Amherstburg.

    Amherstburg councilors express concern over dual high school design

Later Monday, Scantlebury said someone on the board removed the paint.

DiCarlo said there was not much public will to rename the city, as some have suggested in recent years.

“The city is more than its name,” he said. “But when it comes to buildings, streets or parks, you have a chance to make a change.”

DiCarlo encouraged everyone to “try to temper the emotions involved and above all appreciate that this is a school.”

He worries that “this will remain a volatile problem and I don’t know how we are going to overcome this as a community.”

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