Tthe TDSB's curator of Indigenous art and culture, Duke Redbird, says the word 'chief' can be used as a pejorative term.
Photo Credit: cbc / Martin Trainor

“Chief” no longer a title at TDSB


“Chief”,  was the word used to describe someone in charge, at the Toronto District School Board.

But now, inspired by the final report from Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, (TRC) the board is dropping the word “Chief” and replacing it with “Manager”.

“We never used the word, it was an imposed word that the government introduced”

So the former Chief Financial Officer, for example, will now be known as the Manager of Finances, or something similar at Canada’s largest school board.

“We’re very happy that the change was made,” Duke Redbird, the TDSB’s curator of Indigenous arts and culture, told CBC News.

The term ;chief’ was never used by Canada’s indigenous people. “It has nothing to do with our tradition” Duke Redbird explained. © IStock

Redbird clarified that the Indigenous community was not behind the change.

“In this case, the TSDB on their own merit took it upon themselves to change the designation of these roles,” he said. “I’m not sure that chief describes what a person actually does.”

“The word chief has been used in a pejorative way to identify any Indigenous person,” he said, explaining that calling someone chief is often deployed as a form of micro-aggression, an insult.

Furthermore, the title of “chief” has no actual connection to Indigenous culture or language.

“We never used the word — it was an imposed word that the government introduced with the Indian Act back in the 1800s,” Redbird said.

It has nothing to do with our tradition,” he said.

The TDSB oversees 584 schools both elementary and high school, with 246,000 students, as well as 160,000 adult learners in continuing education.

The TRC was the five-year process that began in 2008, to recognise and hear the stories of the terrible legacy of Canada’s Residential School System.

It was imposed on Indigenous peoples in a misguided effort to assimilate the aboriginal population.

The schools, which were run by various Christian religious demoniations, were most often boarding schools where native children, as young as four and five, were taken to, often miles from their homes.

There were as many as 139 Residential schools in operation from 1876 until the last one closed in 1996.

The word “chief” was not used by Canada’s indigenous people, “It has nothing to do with our tradition” Duke Redbird said. © IStock
Posted in Indigenous, Society

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