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SD57 to make final decision on Kelly Road Secondary name change at the end of April

District planning four public engagement sessions, online questionnaire throughout the month
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The new school building will completed by September 2020. (via SD57/Facebook)

The Board of education for School District No. 57 (SD57) will make its final decision regarding the proposed name change for the new Kelly Road Secondary School to Shas ti on April 28.

The district is currently working through an engagement process to inform the upcoming decision and has developed a questionnaire and set four dates for engagement sessions throughout the month of April.

“We as a board have set a few times we acknowledge we did not give adequate knowledge to the Kelly Road community that this was moving forward,” said Board Chair Tim Bennett.

This proposed change comes as a result of the Board approving a motion at its Regular Public Meeting on Feb. 25, 2020 to engage in a process to rename Kelly Road Secondary School.

The proposed name is Shas ti Secondary School which is the Dakelh word for grizzly bear trail.

When asked why the engagement process wasn't completed prior to February, Bennett responded that action wasn't taken until the motion was passed.

“We are committed moving forward in an authentic way saying that, it’s a balancing act. You don’t want to put tons of time and energy into designing a process that may not be approved at the board table”

The district has brought together an engagement group that has representatives from the Hart Community Association, Lheidli T’enneh, parents, students, staff, and SD57 staff to design the process.

Engagement sessions

Bennett says the process has already started with the online feedback and classroom visits.

“As we head into spring break there’s going to be an online questionnaire that will be available for just about a month and then we will have four dates set for community engagement sessions starting April 1 running to mid-April.”

Dates and locations of public engagement sessions are as follows:

  • April 1 – Hart Community (Location TBD)
  • April 5 – Hart Community (Location TBD)
  • April 6 – Hart Community (Location TBD)
  • April 15 – House of Ancestors

He says ultimately the board will be making the final decision regarding the naming of the new school building, under construction on a site adjacent to the current Kelly Road Secondary School, on April 28.

“One of the things we heard from the engagement working group is the community wants a decision made. They don’t want this process to drag on,” added Bennett. He said the architect and maintenance team working on the new building also need time to install things like signage.

“To ensure we are not delaying the opening of the building in September and to ensure we can continue on our timelines we need to ensure a decision is made in the relatively near future.”

A lot of feedback received

The board’s motion to engage in a name change process for the new building has resulted in a lot of reaction both positive and negative from the community that has seen student protests, online comments, and petitions.

“We have received a lot of feedback over the last couple of weeks. A lot of that feedback had suggestions on how we could honour both Kelly Road’s history and our commitment to Truth and Reconciliation and Lheidli history,” said Bennett.  “The board is looking at and considering all of those various options going forward.”

He noted that through this process, the board has heard loudly and clearly, especially from students, a desire to learn more about Lheidli Tenneh’s history in the area.

“Aside from the naming process we are already looking at options, especially with the new curriculum with the real focus on Truth and Reconciliation, UNDRIP, and Indigenous history – how can we work with Lheidli and really provide more opportunities to share the stories in our classrooms.”

Superintendent Anita Richardson says she impressed with how the classroom visits that she and SD57 staff have been making in regards to the name change.

“I would like to acknowledge the maturity, respect, excellent questions and genuine commitment to reconciliation that have existed in each of our conversations,” said Richardson.

“There’s a great learning opportunity here, it might not have come in a package that people appreciated at the time but I think there’s a tremendous opportunity to learn more about our inclusive history of Lheidli T’enneh as well as Kelly Road.”

Ways to stay informed

Richardson noted that the engagement sessions may be affected by the current COVID-19 pandemic which is causing public gatherings across the country to be cancelled.

“The plan as presented is a little up in the air given COVID-19,” said Richardson.

“We don’t know what that is going to hold. That will have potential impact on our public engagement sessions depending on what rolls out. Obviously, things are changing hourly so we will keep an eye on that and provide updates as we go.”

There are multiple ways the public can stay informed with the process. You can send an email to kellyroadfeedback@sd57.bc.ca, visit the SD57 or KRSS website for more information, follow SD57 on social media, or sing up for a dedicated engagement newsletter.