Regina activists push for Davin School name change as survey closes

Members of the activist group Colonialism No More demonstrated at Davin School in Regina, urging the school's name should be changed because of Nicholas Flood Davin's role in Canada's residential school system.

Group says survey "downplays" role Davin played in residential school system

The group Colonialism No More protests in front of Regina's Davin School to push for its name to be changed. Members of education advocacy group Real Renewal continued the call for the name change at a special meeting of electors, hosted on Feb. 28 by Regina Public Schools. (Colonialism No More/ Facebook)

With only five days left of consultations, a community group in Regina is urging people to tell the public school division that Davin School needs to be renamed. 

Florence Stratton is a member of the activist group Colonialism No More. Over the weekend, members demonstrated in front of the elementary school named after Nicholas Flood Davin. 

Davin was a journalist and politician and is known for writing an influential report in 1879 that led to the creation of Canada's residential school system. The report has come to be known as the Davin Report. 

In November, Regina Public Schools passed a motion to begin online consultations to gather feedback to see if the school's name should be changed.

Stratton is concerned the wording in the survey minimizes the impact of the report. 

"A good portion is devoted to listing Davin's accomplishments," she said of the survey. 

"There's absolutely no mention of the word 'genocide' and it downplays the role that the Davin Report played in establishing the residential school system."

Davin School, located in Regina's Crescents neighbourhood, opened in 1929. (Google Street View)

Role of Davin Report

The survey's biography of Davin points to a section in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's final report that says Davin's report was "not a particularly thorough analysis."

The commission itself reported that Davin's ideas were adopted by the federal government and Edgar Dewdney, an Indian commissioner and lieutenant-governor who was advised to follow the recommendations.

The Davin Report of 1879 contains the ideas that led to the establishment of Canada's residential school system, which separated First Nations children from their families and robbed them of their language and culture. (CBC)

Dewdney was instrumental in setting up the reserve system and used the distribution of rations, following the rapid disappearance of buffalo, as a means to force Indigenous people to settle on reserves and send their children to mission schools. 

"Making use of crude generalizations, Davin argued that First Nations people had no option but to be colonized," the commission's report reads.

Deadline for name decision

In April of 2016 Greg Enion, the director of education for Regina Public Schools, described the Davin Report as "a very negative part of our history," but he also said a potential name change would be a long process.

It plans to compile a report on the survey responses and present it to the board in February. The survey closes Friday.

The board has committed to make a decision about renaming the school by the end of the current school year.