Nova Scotia

'A beautiful tribute': Petition grows to rename N.S. school after RCMP Const. Heidi Stevenson

There's been an ongoing discussion about renaming Prince Andrew High School in Dartmouth, N.S., for months, but now there's a push to name it after a victim of last weekend's mass shooting.

Stevenson was killed in the line of duty in mass shooting that left 22 dead

An online petition to rename Prince Andrew High School in Dartmouth, N.S., after Const. Heidi Stevenson has more than 3,500 signatures so far. (RCMP/Reuters)

Former students of Prince Andrew High School in Dartmouth, N.S., are signing and sharing a petition encouraging a name change to honour RCMP Const. Heidi Stevenson.

Stevenson was killed last week in the line of duty as she responded to a Nova Scotia gunman who killed 22 people Saturday night into Sunday morning. The shooter was later killed by police.

The high school was named after the royal baby in 1960, but there were discussions about the possibility of a name change after Prince Andrew was accused of having sex with a 17-year-old.

The petition was created on Friday. By Saturday afternoon, it had more than 3,500 signatures.

One of those to sign is Allyssa Walsh, who graduated from Prince Andrew High in 2015. She said renaming the school after Stevenson would be a "beautiful tribute."

Walsh never met Stevenson, but said she was moved after reading about Stevenson's connection to the Parsons family. Walsh was classmates with their daughter, Rehtaeh, who died in 2013.

"Things were different for a long time, and people really struggled, Walsh said. "So her efforts to support that family, it's incredibly powerful."

School administration took the discussion of a name change to an online forum. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

She said it was a tight-knit school in her time there. Faculty and students supported each other even if they didn't necessarily know each other, she said.

"I don't think there is a better side to our community than what we saw in Const. Stevenson," Walsh said. "So I don't think there is a better name for our school."

Sierra Vigliarolo, a graduate in 2018, also signed the petition. Her mother graduated from the school 30 years prior, and they've continued to live in the community.

"It would be a great way to honour her, and I would definitely feel a sense of pride knowing that my former high school was named after her," said Vigliarolo.

Because there's already controversy around the school's name, Vigliarolo said it makes sense to rename it after Stevenson. But, if that can't happen, she hopes something else in the area can bear Stevenson's name.

A roadside memorial to RCMP Const. Heidi Stevenson, who was shot dead during last weekend's mass shooting. (Reuters/Tim Krochak)

The discussion about whether the school should consider a name change was taken to an online forum in January.

The school's principal said at that time there was no timeline for the discussion and that nothing would happen until the community's wishes were clear.

The Department of Education has not yet responded to a request for comment. The policy for renaming a school states "a request for the change must be submitted to the Governing Board, through the office of the Superintendent."