As far as Lheidli T’enneh Chief Clayton Pountney, the decision to name the new Kelly Road school Shas Ti was made February 25.
He has a point. According to the minutes of the February 25 School District 57 board meeting, it passed the following motion: “That the Board of Education engage in the process to rename the newly constructed Kelly Road Secondary School to Shas Ti.”
So Pountney felt “betrayed” when the board decided to go with a dual name for the school – Shasi Ti Secondary and Kelly Road Secondary.
“We’re extremely extremely disappointed in the decision,” Pountney told reporters Wednesday. “On February 25 all seven trustees said they’re going to go in one direction. Four of them reneged.”
Trustees Tim Bennett, Ron Polillo, Sharel Warrington, and Bob Thompson voted in favour of the dual name, which was an amendment of an original motion to rename the school Kelly Road Shas Ti Secondary.
Pountney doesn’t feel the dual name will work for the school or the students.
“It kind of had to go one way or the other,” Pountney said. “When you have a dual name it keeps a scar on the school that’s going to be there for decades. It’s going to create more division … When you have a kid saying Kelly Road and a kid saying Shas Ti, it might just keep the fighting going.”
Pountney said he feels the school board cave in to a vocal group who wanted to keep the Kelly Road name and doubted that the 2,700 respondents to a school district questionnaire represented a true majority.
“There was no accountability within the questionnaire,” he said. “How many (of the 2,700 respondents) were actually the majority because we have 90,000 people in Prince George.”
He added that when First Nations make a progressive move there is always opposition.
Of all the options, he supported the motion put forward by Trustee Trent Derrick to name the school Shas Ti and name the gymnasium Kelly Road.
“This has hurt the relationship between us and School District 57,” he said. “The trust is kind of gone. We have to hold them accountable for their actions. You don’t renege on your word … where’s your respect, where’s your integrity?”
He agrees that more consultation from the board at the outset could have helped.
“As it stands, they backtracked very quickly after they made the decision,” he said. “When myself and my council make a decision, we stick by it.”