After hearing public outcry about a potential name change to the new Kelly Road Secondary (KRSS), set to open in September, School District 57 (SD57) says it will soon spend time with current students and staff.
In a news release, feedback about engaging in the process in changing the name to Shas ti Secondary, which means 'Grizzly Bear Trail' or 'Path' in Dakelh, has been overwhelming and noted by Prince George district trustees and administrative staff.
They’re now scheduled to make classroom visits this week, which will also include SD57 Superintendent Anita Richardson.
“Last week, some students felt compelled to choose protest to voice their feelings,” said Richardson in this afternoon’s (March 2) statement.
“We feel strongly that we need to give all students the ability to share their thoughts and feelings while we are here to listen. We will do that by making ourselves available to them in their classrooms.”
On Saturday (Feb. 29), dozens of Kelly Road supporters rallied in front of the SD57 offices on Ferry Avenue, claiming the protest to keep the name is not out of race or hatred toward the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation, who requested the Board of Education to engage in the process for Shas ti last Tuesday (Feb. 25).
"We're not putting anybody down," one resident said during the rally, which was the second known gathering of KRSS supporters after students walked out to Highway 97 on Wednesday (Feb. 26) following the SD57’s decision.
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
"We cannot ignore what happened in the past," another said, "but we also can't keep walking over history after history."
KRSS staff are also set to be part of conversations this week in a separate meeting in recognizing the announcement came as a surprise to teachers too.
“We’ve been told that the ambiguity of the motion has been the most difficult for people, because they are looking to see how they can engage in the process of providing feedback,” Richardson added, saying this will help staff understand their roles moving forward.
“We want to ensure they also feel supported and heard throughout this process. That’s why we’re working quickly to ensure purposeful opportunities are provided for students, staff, alumni and the public to participate.”
SD57 Board Chair Tim Bennett says his team is committed to reading and responding to every call and email they receive about the potential name change.
According to the district, more details about the engagement process and future public consultations will be announced before Spring Break.
- with files from Hanna Petersen and Jess Fedigan, PrinceGeorgeMatters