Plans have been perfected to rename a school in Vaughan, Ont., after late Somali-Canadian journalist Hodan Nalayeh, known for her courageous storytelling and passion for education.
This development was reached after Trustees with the York Region District School Board voted to change the name of Vaughan Secondary School, which originally honoured Benjamin Vaughan, a slaveholder in the 18th century.
It was gathered that ten out of 12 trustees voted in favour of the motion, which was initially put forward due to a push from the Black community in the region.
Reacting to the development, the late journalist’s family in a statement said “It is with a heavy-heart and with a deep sense of gratitude that the Nalayeh Family accepts the … decision to rename the school in question with Hodan’s name”.
“With it, comes a tremendous responsibility to uplift and support all students, their families and the communities … whether local to the school or across our great region.”
During the meeting, the trustees reportedly averred that Nalayeh was known for her passion for education, as well as telling stories. She had a TV show and led advocacy work for the Somali community in Canada. It would be recalled that she died in an attack on a hotel in Somalia in 2019.
In the meeting, Trustee Bob McRoberts said “[She] was a journalist and inspirational storyteller whose message to youth was that achievement depends on perseverance and education”.
“She has family who still live in Vaughan … I found it to be a special connection that Hodan’s nephew is currently a student at the school.”
He continued that it is thanks to the efforts of the Black community in York Region that the “historical” wrong is being corrected in some way.
He said “If it weren’t for the lobbying efforts and the persistence and concern initiated and expressed to us by the Black community, the name of the school would still be Vaughan Secondary School”.
“We had no reason or awareness of the need for a change.”
It should be noted that Hodan Nalayeh Secondary School will be the first secondary school with the York Region District School Board to be named after a person of colour.
It will be the second named after a woman.