The School District 57 board of trustees are considering renaming the school Shas ti, which in the Dakelh language, means “grizzly path.” Trustee Trent Derrick brought the motion for a name change forward following a presentation from Lheidli T’enneh elders. It was passed unanimously.
Lheidli T’enneh Chief Clay Pountney and elders welcomed the move to possibly changing the school’s name.
“We always had history in that area and the elders shared their stories about it and it turned out very well,” said Poutney. “Now that it’s done, we have to work together to make all of this happen. Our elders and community believe this will reflect a part of our history and allow us and School District 57 to take another step forward on the road to reconciliation.”
“I remember my grandfather would tell us stories about how grizzlies would roam through what is now the Hart Highway area looking for food and berries to withstand them through the winter,” Kenora Stewart told trustees.
Lheidli Elder Clifford Quaw added: “To me, we always wanted to go back to our traditional ways. What we want to do is not force ourselves onto the trustees to change the name overnight. We want a gradual process from Kelly Road to Shas ti.”
The suggested name change, however, is not sitting well with some. About 100 students held a protest Wednesday to voice opposition to the name change.
In addition, a change.org online petition, set up by Hannah Jones last night after the board meeting calling for the board to reconsider, already has more than 4,600 signatures.
“Kelly Road is a legacy,” Jones said in her petition. “It’s been the name of that school for longer than I’ve been alive, I don’t think the school district should be the only people to have a voice in this decision. We have to fight to keep the legacy alive.”