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SD57 Board approves request to rename Kelly Road Secondary School to the Dakelh name Shas ti

KRSS will eventually be known as Shas ti Secondary School which means Grizzly Trail or Path

It’s truly a new beginning for Kelly Road Secondary as the school will not only be getting a new building, but also a new name.

At the request of Lheidli T’enneh Elders, the School District 57 (SD57) Board of Education has voted to begin the process to rename Kelly Road to the Dakelh name Shas ti Secondary School.

Shas ti means 'grizzly bear trail' or 'path.'

Dayi (Chief) Clay Pountney and Lheidli Elders Kenora Stewart and Clifford Quaw attended tonight's (Feb. 25) board meeting to share stories about the area now known as the Hart Highway, which was at one time, a populous grizzly bear habitat.

“I remember vividly, as a young girl, my grandfather telling us stories of his hunting journey on the land and how it was known as one of the great berry-picking areas and how the berries and vegetation attracted to many bears including grizzlies,” said Stewart.

“He would tell about how grizzlies would roam through what is now the Hart Highlands and UNBC looking for food and berries to withstand them from throughout the winter.”

Lheidli ancestors hunted grizzly bears in this area to sustain families, Elders and community.

“As an Elder, I have seen lots, that’s why I call myself a seen-ager. I’ve seen everything,” added Quaw.

“To me, we always want to go back to 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.”

Trustee Trent Derrick made the motion that the board engage in the process to rename the newly constructed Kelly Road Secondary School to Shas ti.

“We, as a board, have made a commitment to the truth and reconciliation and sealed this commitment in unity with the Lheidli T’enneh in their government system of the Balhats. It was here that we made the commitment to work nation-to-nation and government system-to-government system,” said Derrick.

“In the spirit of the work, what has been presented to us tonight is the opportunity to honour our commitment to move forward. Tonight, we have a chance to honour the long history of the Lheidli T’enneh and make a statement that this board will be different in its relationship with the Lheidli T’enneh.”

Once the issue was opened for discussion, support for the change was expressed around the table.

“The time for talking about reconciliation is over and the time for taking action has come and I think we need to pursue this,” said Trustee Bob Thompson.

Chair Tim Bennett said the board 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.

Bennett added he's looking forward to standing beside the Lheidli T’enneh to help them share the stories and knowledge of the land they presented to the board during the meeting, and engage students in the process of developing a new identity for the building.  

“Not everyone will agree and that’s okay because this is a good rebirth for the high school north of the Nechako.”

The board then voted unanimously to approve the recommendation to begin the renaming process, and applause from the gallery immediately followed.

“We always had history in that area and the elders came and shared their stories about it and it turned out very well,” said Dayi Pountney after the decision.

“Now that it’s done, we have to work together to make all of this happen.”

Trustee Derrick, who tabled the motion, said he was excited it was unanimous.

“I think the board has really committed themselves to truth and reconciliation and UNDRIP, and I think this is the first step.”