Nova Scotia

Former Sir John A. Macdonald High School now called Bay View High School

Students returning to class at the high school in Tantallon will see some big changes.

Tantallon school installs a major artwork from Mi'kmaw artist inside front doors

The name of Sir John A. Macdonald High School in Tantallon has been changed to Bay View High School. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

The high school in Tantallon, N.S., has a new name, among other changes.

Students have attended Sir John A. Macdonald High School for decades. The new name is Bay View High School.

"We enlisted the help of students in our community as well as staff and alumni to come together and help us come up with a new name," said vice-principal Ryan Connors.

More than 400 entries were submitted.

The decision to change the name of the school came a year and a half ago.

Because Canada's first prime minister played a role in the creation of the residential school system and the Indian Act of 1867, administrators thought a more inclusive name was needed.

"This sends a message of authentic inclusion here at our school," said Connors. "There have been some of our students that have had a tough time walking into the school under the Sir John A name and we now hope with the name change, that barrier has been removed."

The school overlooks St. Margarets Bay.

Mi'kmaw artist Alan Syliboy created a mural for the school's main lobby. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

When students walk through the front doors of the school, they will notice something else that's new. There is a five-panel mural by Mi'kmaw artist Alan Syliboy.

Reached at his studio in Truro, N.S., Syliboy said it means a lot to him to see a piece of his art, as well as other Indigenous displays, set up throughout the school.

"That's a vehicle for change and it helps to bring the world to be aware of other cultures," said Syliboy, who crafted the mural from several individual pieces of his artwork.

"I think Indigenous people have been invisible in this landscape for a long, long time, so change is good."

The administration at the school said the changes were long overdue.

Connors said the reaction to Syliboy's mural has been positive.

"It just blew everybody out of the water who has come into the school," said Connors. "It's surreal, spectacular and just beautiful."