Things in Prince George continue to be tense over a potential name change at a local high school with another protest happening outside the School District 57 (SD57) offices this morning (Feb. 29).
Passion once again was on display, with many Kelly Road Secondary supporters saying they want the name to stay because of the school's legacy, claiming it's not out of race or hatred toward the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation.
"We're not putting anybody down," one resident said.
"We cannot ignore what happened in the past," another said, "but we also can't keep walking over history after history."
Suggestions even included having both names incorporated in the school name.
Signs at the rally said "KRSS STRONG, BENNETT WRONG," "Keep The Name Kelly Road Secondary" and "Once A Road Runner, Always A Road Runner."
At Tuesday's (Feb. 25) public meeting, the SD57 Board of Education passed a motion to engage in a request of Lheidli T’enneh Elders to rename Kelly Road Secondary School to Shas ti, meaning means 'grizzly bear trail' or 'path' in Dakelh.
Chair Tim Bennett said trustees would be kidding themselves if they didn’t think there would be people questioning the change.
“We know that Kelly Road has a history and legacy in this district and that there’s going to be people questioning this decision, but I also believe it’s the right thing to do,” said Bennett.
“Not everyone will agree and that’s okay because this is a good rebirth for the high school north of the Nechako.”
After news broke, social media lit up with division, controversy and racist comments.
The next day (Feb. 26) Kelly Road Secondary School students walked out of class and protested on Highway 97 just outside the school, chanting 'KRSS' and 'Keep Our Name!'
A petition also started online to keep the name of the 58-year-old high school, which currently has almost 10,000 signatures.
After @SD57PG announced a name change last night from Kelly Road Secondary to the Dakelh name Shas ti, students at the school are now roadside chanting “KRSS” and keep the name. The name change has sparked a large debate on social media #cityofpg #sd57 #pgmatters @PGMatters pic.twitter.com/8SCwzjs3Zc— jess fedigan (@jj_fedigan) February 26, 2020
The actions prompted a statement from SD57 Board Chair Tim Bennett, who admitted the school district failed to properly engage the community of KRSS and would be starting community engagement sessions in the near future.
"We acknowledge that there is passion and school spirit for Kelly Road and the Hart community that was exhibited today, which will probably continue for some time as we move through this process," he said.
"Given our enthusiasm for the new direction, we acknowledge that we failed to fully engage the community connected to Kelly Road school."