Calgary Catholic district expects to make decision on Bishop Grandin school renaming by end of month
The CBE changed the name of a school named for a residential school architect earlier this month
WARNING: This story contains details some readers may find distressing.
The Calgary Catholic School District said it hopes to make a decision about the possible renaming of Bishop Grandin High School — named for one of the leaders of residential schools — by the end of the month.
Bishop Vital-Justin Grandin was a Roman Catholic priest and bishop who advocated on behalf of Métis rights, but he also believed First Nations people needed to be "civilized" and viewed residential schools as the way to accomplish this.
After the recent discovery of what are believed to be the unmarked burial sites containing children's remains, adjacent to a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C., schools and municipalities across the country have been removing the names of those involved in the residential school system from buildings and infrastructure.
Earlier this month the Calgary Board of Education passed a motion to rename Langevin School to Riverside School, after years of advocacy from students and community members.
Hector-Louis Langevin was one of the fathers of Confederation and a Conservative cabinet minister, serving as secretary of state for the provinces when the country's residential schools were introduced. He is considered an architect of the residential school system.
Just days before the CBE made the renaming decision, Mayor Naheed Nenshi called on both the CBE and CCSD to change the names of Langevin School and Bishop Grandin School.
Following the CBE's renaming, the CCSD released a statement saying it was "easy to be distracted on other issues like changing names of schools," but that it was time to devote the week to prayer in memory of the loss of Indigenous children in residential schools.
On Friday, board chair Mary Martin said in an email home to families that trustees had been "considering the possibility of renaming Bishop Grandin High School" for several months, including a motion at a Feb. 24 meeting to prepare a report about renaming.
In March, another motion was passed allowing admin to invite provincial representatives to be part of an extensive consultation process regarding the request to change the name of Bishop Grandin High School, "with the hope of bringing forth recommendations to the board by June 30, 2022."
An online engagement was launched that day, which allowed members of the CCSD community to provide feedback. The online engagement closed Tuesday.
In an emailed statement the board said it will now review the feedback submitted to make an informed decision.
"The Board will be discussing this topic at the upcoming June 16 board meeting, however, we hope to have a decision made by the end of the month," said spokeswoman Sandra Borowski.
Meanwhile, Edmonton city council unanimously voted Monday to remove all city references to Bishop Grandin, including renaming the LRT station that bears his name.
The name of the Grandin LRT station will be covered until a city naming committee, consulting with a working group with Indigenous representation, recommends a new name. A station mural of Grandin will also be covered.
Support is available for anyone affected by the lingering effects of residential schools, and those who are triggered by the latest reports.
A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former students and those affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.