What is in a name? A name gives identity to a person, place or thing. It distinguishes them from others around them providing a unique identity. The name Ashcroft has been associated with our community for around 150 years. One might say that the “Desert Sands” have been around much longer, but how do they distinguish our community from any other community residing in an arid region. We do not even live in a desert, rather a semi-arid region. The only desert in all of Canada ends in the Osoyoos area and according to my understanding is a part of the only desert in North America, the Mojave.
The town Ashcroft was given its name by the Canadian Surveyor General in the latter part of the 19th Century, so as not to confuse the Post Office officials in Ottawa because Henry Cornwall and Mr. Clement had named the post office in their roadside house, Ashcroft Station Post Office 25 years earlier. The name has been associated with our schools or school district since at least 1886.
I happened to discover while reading my e-mails last week a petition asking our Board of Trustees to revisit their decision renaming our renovated school Desert Sands Community School. That was the first that I had heard even of a proposed name change. I am deeply concerned that a decision of this magnitude was made with so little public input. My understanding is that those elected to represent our school district are to make decisions of behalf of their constituency based upon consultation with those they represent and this certainly does not appear to have been the case regarding this situation.
These are the results of the poll conducted by the District, depicting the three final choices. The total number of votes cast for the six top name choices were 334, and the three finalists:
Ashcroft Community School, 136;
Desert Sands Community School, 57; and
Thompson River Community School, 49.
Those whom I have spoken with have been 100 per cent against the name change and while this represents a small cross-section of our community I am guessing that a public poll on this issue would validate my findings.
I have personally contacted each of the members of the Board of Trustees as well as the Minister of Education regarding this matter and would encourage others around our community who may have concerns around the process or the name itself to do the same.