Backlash has poured out in the past 60 hours from Prince George residents regarding a potential name change to the new Kelly Road Secondary School.
In an effort to quickly engage with the public following School District 57’s (SD57) unanimous decision to begin the process, by request of Lheidli T’enneh Dayi (Chief) Clay Pountney and Elders, the Board of Education set up an email for questions, comments or concerns.
Feedback produced common questions about possibly renaming Kelly Road to Shas ti Secondary, which means ‘Grizzly Bear Trail’ or ‘Path’ in Dakelh, which would honour the animal’s habitat history in the Hart region.
“We always had history in that area and the Elders came and shared their stories about it and it turned out very well,” said Chief Clay Pountney after Tuesday’s (Feb. 25) decision.
“Now that it’s done, we have to work together to make all of this happen.”
Public feedback in the SD57 inbox ranged from consultation and costs, to the recent student protests and the school mascot.
“I thank everyone for their messages, emails, and comments,” said SD57 Board Chair Tim Bennett in a social media post.
“I have read them and a lot of online commentary. Will reply as I am able to.”
Bennett also admitted in an earlier statement that the district failed to engage the Kelly Road community about the motion before voting.
He encourages the public to keep sharing all thoughts and opinions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following are the 12 most popular public inquiries with answers provided by the SD57 Office of the Superintendent:
Why was the public not consulted before the Board of Education Regular Public Meeting of February 25th, 2020?
On February 25th, 2020, the Board of Education unanimously carried a motion to engage the public in a process of a new name. In order to start a process to engage the public on any Board of Education decision, they must first make a motion to do so. The Board chose to make this decision at a public meeting to provide transparency of their intent, and the community will have the opportunity to participate in sessions to ensure the history of Kelly Road is preserved as we move forward in a new era and a new school.
When will the opportunities for engagement start?
We have already heard some creative suggestions from current Kelly Road students and staff for how to capture the school spirit and we will work with them to harness this creative energy as part of the engagement process. Next month, and in the months that follow, we will have various additional opportunities for engagement and input for students, staff, Kelly Road alumni and the general public. We have committed that this will be complete before the school opens in September 2020.
What will the format for engagement be?
We are still finalizing plans for the engagement process for participants as outlined above. More information will be updated on sd57.bc.ca as it becomes available. Engagement sessions will be educational, participatory, and will seek to hear ideas on how to honour the significant history of Kelly Road Secondary School while recognizing our responsibilities to the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action.
Will the suggestions/feelings of the community actually be taken into account?
We will be accepting suggestions on elements of design with the intention of honouring the spirit of reconciliation while keeping the history of Kelly Road Secondary School. We will be working with students, staff and the Kelly Road community to provide opportunities for input and direction. The name Shas Ti has been chosen as a response to the local history shared by the Lheidli T'enneh Elders.
Will there be a vote on the name change?
At the end of the engagement process, the Board of Education will put forward a motion to clarify their course of action.
Is the name change happening regardless?
At this time, the Board of Education has decided to engage in a process. The board will move ahead with the process, which is in alignment with the ideologies contained in the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action and UNDRIP (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples).
What will happen to the colour schemes, logo and mascot?
We will focus on the engagement and take suggestions into consideration. There will be an opportunity to incorporate the spirit and traditions of Kelly Road into the new school.
Why was a member of the community told in 2019 that Kelly Road would not be changing its name or mascot?
The message that was shared was based on the information that was available at the time.
Why is Kelly Road being renamed? Why now?
We are in a time of reconciliation and School District No. 57 is proud to be at the forefront of this movement in British Columbia. With the timing of a brand new building, there is an opportunity to support our public commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action.
Will all schools be renamed in the future?
In the past 10 years, there have been several name changes of schools within School District No. 57. Spruceland Traditional Elementary School, Polaris Montessori Elementary School, Ecole Lac des Bois Elementary and Nusdeh Yoh Elementary School are examples. What we can say is that purposeful public engagement will be part of all school name changes going forward.
What is your stance on student protest?
We fully support and encourage student voice on issues that matter to them. However, we do not support absences from school to take part in student action. Ultimately, our primary concern is always for the safety and well-being of our students, and that dialogue is respectful and mindful.
What is the actual cost to taxpayers through the Ministry of Education?
The process of a name change is actually cost neutral at this time. All of the signage for the school will be new and was worked into the current budget. Because of trademark issues regarding the Roadrunner bird, the logo was being reviewed for update along with the new school and this would have required new letterheads, etc.
- with files from Hanna Petersen and Jess Fedigan, PrinceGeorgeMatters