Kitchener Public School to Change Name


AR Kaufman Public School is the latest location added to the Waterloo Region District School Board’s list of local schools as the legacy of historical figures is called into question.

AR Kaufman sparked debate among school trustees at the Waterloo Region School Board meeting on Monday evening.

“Kaufman was known to organize sterilizations targeting working class employees, the poor, and the physically or mentally disabled,” said Crissa Hill, Zone 6 superintendent. “Kaufman’s advice was that the provision of contraceptives cheap would allow, and I quote, “to limit the unintelligent and penniless, who unfortunately constitute a growing percentage of the total population. “”

The board was aware of the renaming work already started on Sir John A Macdonald High School and Ryerson Public School, due to Macdonald’s key role in establishing residential schools in Canada and Buffalo’s reputation. Famine and Ryerson create the setting for residential schools.

It comes after an ad hoc school name review committee identified the three schools as priorities to warrant a name change.

Former AR Kaufman student and administrator Mike Ramsay says he’s not sure about the change.

“I just don’t think I have a lot of faith in the information we get right now, so I will abstain when it comes time to vote,” he said.

The recommendation to change the three names was approved after nearly all of the directors voted in favor. There was no vote against, as Ramsay was the only director to abstain.

“When someone tells me that something, in this case a name is hurting them, I’m going to choose to believe them and act on it,” said administrator Jayne Herring. “I will vote in favor of this report tonight.”

The three schools will be responsible for choosing a new name, but it is not known how soon this will happen.

The board will also ensure that the names reflect its commitment to promoting Indigenous, equity, human rights and inclusive learning and working environments for all students and staff.


Karen Stote, assistant professor of women and gender studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, said Kaufman was an entrepreneur and businessman, who ran the Kaufman rubber factory on King Street.

“He’s often called the father of birth control in Canada,” Stote said. “While he was making rubber boots and other types of shoes, he also made condoms to a lesser extent and things like diaphragms and so on, starting in the 1930s, even before the control of births are legal in Canada. was known, but he is also increasingly recognized as having been integrated into the eugenics movement here in Canada. “

Stote said Kaufman was an active member of the Eugenics Society of Canada.

“Kaufman had ideas through birth control, the poor, the unemployed, the people living in poverty, should be prevented from reproducing,” Stote said. “Those who were not able or could not be trusted to take contraceptive forms of birth control, they should also be sterilized. “

The school isn’t the only place in the region named after Kaufman. There is also Kaufman Park in Kitchener, Kaufman Lofts and YMCA AR Kaufman.

In a statement, YMCA officials said they are examining what the school board‘s name change means for their future, saying they will explore ways to participate in the school board process.

Stote said Kaufman was very active during the Great Depression, often promoting birth control and sterilization for those fired from his business.

“The idea that at least you won’t have any more mouths to feed, even though you will be unemployed and live in poverty,” she said.

Stote added that she hopes to see education campaigns accompany any future name changes.

“Changing the name of the buildings, without doing that education, is going to kind of erase this problematic story,” she said. “We don’t want to erase things, because when we erase history, history tends to repeat itself.”


The City of Kitchener also wishes to address the concerns of the community surrounding Kaufman Park.

In an email to CTV News, Elin Moorlag Silk, the project manager for Equity, Anti-Racism & Indigenous Iniatives, said she is not currently considering renaming the park.

However, the city wants to make sure that “everyone in the community feels safe, welcome and included”.

Silk said the city has launched a review of its parks strategy and is asking residents to share their ideas.

“The feedback will be used to develop a series of guidelines to shape the city’s approach to supporting, maintaining, developing new and reinvesting in older parks and open spaces,” she said.

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