Regina public asked to weigh in on possible Davin Elementary School name change

Should Davin Elementary School in Regina, Sask. get a new name? That’s what’s currently up for debate among the members of the Regina Public Schools board.

87-year-old school named after man involved in creating residential schools

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

Should Davin Elementary School in Regina, Sask. get a new name? That's what's currently up for debate among the members of Regina's public school division board.

On Tuesday night, the board for Regina Public Schools opted to throw the decision out to members of the public.

The elementary school, which has stood in the city's Crescents neighbourhood for 87 years, is named after Nicholas Flood Davin. In 1879, the Regina journalist and politician wrote an influential report that led to the creation of Canada's residential school system.

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)

According to Terry Lazarou, spokesperson for Regina Public Schools, the board passed a motion to begin an online consultation on the potential name change in late November.

"Regina Public Schools feels that it's very important to get feedback from school communities on issues that are important to that community," he said, following the board meeting.

"We also believe that we should be getting advice and support, and [should] consult with other groups such as our elders advisory group and other individuals who live and work and play and learn in Regina."

Movement gains strength across Canada

Lazarou said the community and the board began discussing whether the school's name is still appropriate during the last school year.

This goes along with a recent movement in the country to remove monuments recognizing people credited with dark parts of Canadian history. For instance, Davin's grave in Ottawa's Beechwood Cemetery, which contains a bust of him, was recently augmented by a plaque drawing attention to his role in the residential school system.  

With the expansion of residential schools in the 20th century, Aboriginal children were removed from their homes and forced to give up their language and culture.Thousands of those students were physically and sexually abused, including many from Saskatchewan.

A plaque was recently added to the grave for Nicholas Flood Davin at the Beechwood Cemetery, detailing his involvement with the creation of residential schools. (Cindy Blackstock)

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.

Lazarou said the board plans to decide one way or the other by the end of the 2017-18 school year in June 2018.