Grandin name removed from Edmonton Catholic elementary school
Workers on site to remove mural paying tribute to first Catholic bishop of St. Albert
Trustees with Edmonton Catholic Schools voted unanimously on Monday to remove the name of a bishop who was instrumental in establishing residential schools from the name of an elementary school.
The 105-year-old school at 98th Avenue and 110th Street was named after Vital Grandin, the first Roman Catholic bishop of St. Albert. Grandin was a proponent and architect of the residential school system in Canada.
The recent discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at residential schools in British Columbia and Saskatchewan has forced institutions to reckon with Grandin's role in a system that inflicted so much suffering, abuse and trauma on Indigenous Canadians.
Edmonton Catholic board chair Sandra Palazzo said the truth needed to be acknowledged.
"It is incumbent upon us to ensure that we are not honouring any aspect of the legacy of the residential school system or further traumatizing members of the Indigenous communities we presently serve," Palazzo said.
Several hours later, trustees with Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools voted unanimously in favour of changing the name of Vital Grandin
Thousands of Indigenous children were taken from their families and forced to attend the schools, an effort by the Canadian government to strip them of their language and culture.. Students were starved, physically and sexually abused.
Justice Murray Sinclair, who served as chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, said the TRC found that at least 6,000 children died.
Elder Betty Letendre thanked trustees for removing Grandin's name from the school.
"You have recognized the lives of those children who never made it home," she said.
At their meeting Monday, Edmonton Catholic trustees voted in favour of removing a mural paying tribute to Grandin from the side of the school building. Workers started removing the mural shortly after the motion was approved.
The district will spend the next few months determining the process for renaming the school.
Several hours later, trustees with Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools voted unanimously in favour of changing the name of the 62-year-old Vital Grandin Catholic Elementary School.
The district plans to choose a new name by the end of September with the help of a committee made up of parents, school officials and community members. Signage with Grandin's name will be removed immediately.
Edmonton city council is removing the Grandin name from an LRT station and covered a mural that paid tribute to him.
Calgary Catholic trustees also voted unanimously in favour Monday of changing the name of Bishop Grandin High School. It will be known temporarily as Haysboro Catholic High School until the district determines a permanent name.
Support is available for anyone affected by their experience at residential schools, and those who are triggered by these reports.
A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for residential school survivors and others affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.