'We're being heard right now': Regina's Davin School named after residential school advocate to be renamed

The Regina Public School Board has voted to rename Davin Elementary School in light of concerns over connections with the school's namesake and residential schools.

School board votes to rename elementary as The Crescents School

Regina Public School Board trustees voted to change the name of Davin Elementary School on Monday night. The school will be renamed The Crescents School. (Emily Pasiuk/CBC News)

The Regina Public School Board has voted to rename Davin Elementary School in light of concerns over connections with the school's namesake and residential schools.

The school will be renamed The Crescents School for the 2018-19 school year.

The school was initially named for Nicholas Flood Davin, who was a journalist and politician. He wrote an influential 1879 report that played a role in the creation of residential schools.

Simon Ash-Moccasin, a former student at the school, said it's a "victory for all" to have Davin's "colonial" name replaced.

Simon Ash Moccasin said his years at Davin were good years, but that he was never educated about the history of the name behind the school. (Emily Pasiuk/CBC News)

"As an Indigenous person, we're being heard right now," Ash-Moccasin said. "There's a lot of people before that fought to be heard that weren't heard."

"It's education, that's where it starts," he said.

Votes 4-1 for replacement

The school board launched an online survey last November, asking the public if the Davin name should be scrapped. The issue went back to the board after inconclusive results.

On Tuesday, members voted 4-1 in favour of changing the school name, along with the other recommendations. One board member abstained.

Jay Kasperski, trustee of subdivision seven, was the only member to oppose the name change, although he did vote in favour of the other recommendations.

During the meeting, he said it would be "arrogant" for current trustees to "revisit and correct a decision made almost 90 years ago to recognize an individual for the prominent role he played in the founding years of our community without any framework to guide that decision."

Kasperski also said keeping the Davin name wouldn't "diminish or minimize the great strides" the school board has made toward reconciliation.

The Davin School, which opened in 1929, was named after Nicholas Flood Davin, who wrote an influential report that preceded creation of Canada's residential school system. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

Adam Hicks, vice-chairperson and trustee of subdivision three, voted in favour of the recommendations but said it was one of the most difficult decisions in his two years on the board.

"The Davin name represents that of a society that had become a bully — a bully that created pain and suffering for thousands of Indigenous people across this country," Hicks said.

"Whether or not it was the intent of Davin, just the name and the report can be triggers for those who have been hurt through those actions before us," the board member continued.

"For those of us who do not experience those triggers from the name, like myself, can we not be caring and heartfelt for those that do?"

Further recommendations

The board approved other recommendations along with the name change: 

  • A new plaque to be made and displayed detailing the history of the school's name, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations and the actions taken by the school division.
  • A permanent and public document to be created to outline the history of the school, its name and actions taken by the school division.
  •  The Davin School name on the masonry of the building to be preserved for historical purposes, and the plaque about Nicholas Flood Davin to be retained. 
  • A permanent exhibit of artifacts of the Treaty 4 area and Regina Industrial School to be assembled and made available to all Regina Public Schools through the Alex Youck Museum.

The board said those changes will be implemented over time.

With files from CBC News and Cory Coleman