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School District 8 votes in favour of name change for Creston’s high school

In an act of reconciliation, a new name will be chosen for the former Prince Charles Secondary School
On Friday, June 18, school staff, members of the Lower Kootenay Band, and families attended a ceremony to remove the letters from the school. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)

Steps towards reconciliation with Indigenous people continue to be taken throughout Canada, and the Creston Valley is no exception.

On June 15 at an open meeting, School District 8’s board of trustees approved a motion to change the name of Prince Charles Secondary School (PCSS).

Effective immediately, the regular, non-legal usage by SD8 of the name of the secondary school will no longer include Prince Charles. The school will temporarily be referred to as Creston Valley Secondary School. Signage at the school with the previous name will also be taken down.

Local teacher Ki Louie brought forward the request and spoke about how the name is offensive to the Yaqan Nukiy community and no longer appropriate, especially with the recent find of 215 unmarked graves of children at a former Kamloops residential school.

He has consulted with school staff, the student body, and the Lower Kootenay Band (LKB) on a new name. Earlier this year, he also worked with students and local elders to rename the school library to Yaqsumit (the Ktunaxa word for canoe).

READ MORE: Creston school renames library in act of reconciliation

“When I proposed this to LKB chief and council, Nasukin Jason Louie asked us to choose something that is inclusive of everybody,” said Louie. “If people come from Bountiful or Yahk, we want them to also feel included here.”

Some of the suggested names include Creston Valley, Kootenay River, or a combination of both with Creston Kootenay Secondary School.

SD8 staff has been directed to investigate the process for the name change and report back. Louie will continue further consultation with the Town of Creston and wider community to decide on the new name.

Several trustees were vocal with their utmost support for the motion.

“I’m going to support you 100 per cent in the name change for this community,” said trustee Allan Gribbin in the meeting, who is also a Creston resident. “I do think (the current name) is offensive to the Yaqan Nukiy people in our community. I don’t think this should become personal against Prince Charles, but it certainly is the Crown itself that is responsible to some extent for not living up to the terms of treaty.”

Principal Brian Hamm also agreed that choosing a new name for the school is the right choice.

“I think we’ve seen precedent for this with the Edmonton Elks (formerly Eskimos), when they temporarily changed their name to the Edmonton Football team,” he said.

“When the monarchy came into Canada, they stole children from their homes and destroyed their language and culture. Reconciliation is action, and the time is now.”

Another example of a name change for reconciliation can be seen at Medicine Hat High School in Alberta.

For the 2020/21 school year, staff discontinued the use of the Indigenous-themed Mohawks sports team name. The team’s controversial logo depicted the profile of an Indigenous chief.

While a better suiting mascot has yet to be chosen, this will be the second name change for the high school according to archival records. In the 1950s and 60s, the original team name was the Redskins.

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Kelsey Yates

About the Author: Kelsey Yates

Kelsey Yates has had a lifelong passion for newspapers and storytelling. Originally from Alberta, she graduated from SAIT Polytechnic's journalism program in 2016.
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