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Sixty-eight per cent of residents say don’t rename Kelly Road school; 85 per cent say achieve reconciliation

Sixty-eight per cent of residents feel the school district should not rename Kelly Road Secondary School.

More than 2,700 residents took part in School District 57’s questionnaire about possibly, in the name of reconciliation, changing the name to Shas Ti, as suggested by the Lheidli T’enneh, or at least incorporate it into the school’s name.

While that is an overwhelming endorsement for leaving the name unchanged, 85 per cent of respondents believe that both histories/stories of Kelly Road Secondary School and Shas Ti can, and should both be acknowledged together in the spirit of reconciliation.

So how does the board, which will make a decision on renaming, or not, reconcile those two directives?

“That is a great discussion and the board is going to have to weigh those options for Tuesday night,” said Tim Bennett, board chair, after receiving close to 800 pages of public input data Wednesday. “Now trustees will take that data, read through the responses, and will bring recommendations and debate forward to the meeting on Tuesday.”

The board has set the April 28 meeting for making a decision on a possible name change as that would provide enough time to have everything prepared in time for the new school building to open in September.

That doesn’t leave trustees much time to absorb the full scope of comments submitted through the questionnaire. Many of the questions were open-ended, which means respondents were allowed put their feelings down and those form bulk of the 800 pages trustees will have to sort through.

“We recognize the timeline is very tight,” said Bennett. “I think I can speak for all the trustees in saying we are very committed  to making sure the 2,700 individuals who completed the questionnaire have their voices be heard. We are making sure we read the questionnaire so we are prepared on Tuesday.”

A small number of respondents (one per cent) felt it was not their decision to make—that it should be left to the Trustees to decide. Thirty per cent of combined respondents believe the name should include Shas Ti in some way. Either solely as Shas Ti Secondary (13 per cent) or in a combined name (13 per cent), the most popular being: Kelly Road-Shas Ti Secondary, or keep the school name as Kelly Road Secondary, with Shas Ti represented within the building and area (three per cent of respondents). The most popular ideas included room naming (gym, library, gathering place/atrium, front entrance) or dedication of the land (park, field, path). Thirty-four participants (one per cent) suggested other names.

The most popular were: Grizzly High School, John Kelly Secondary School, Grace Dove Secondary, or Hart High School.

When asked about how to achieve reconciliation several suggestions were put forward:

  • by keeping both in the school name
  • through room and space namings – internal and external to the new school through curriculum expansion
  • through continued education about both histories
  • through art, photography, artifacts displays, informational presentations, timelines

However, many (both supporters of KRSS and Shas Ti) responded that changing the name of this school from KRSS to Shas Ti or vice versa will not achieve this goal; as reconciliation not a superficial exercise.

A group of respondents also highlighted that the way that this process was undertaken, and the motion that came forward in February, has had a detrimental effect on the opportunities that reconciliation presents, because it caused such division—looking to replace one name with another, and one history with another.

Thirteen per cent of respondents were adamantly opposed to either changing the name from KRSS to Shas Ti or accepting anything other than Shas Ti as the name for the new school building.

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