CALGARY — A school in northeast Calgary, which bore the name of an architect of Canada’s residential school system for decades, has a new name.
In a letter to parents sent Tuesday morning, the Calgary Board of Education announced a motion had been passed to rename Langevin School as Riverside School.
The school was originally known as Riverside Junior High School before it adopted the Langevin name in 1936.
According to CBE officials, the board of trustees has heard numerous concerns from students, staff and community members regarding the Langevin name and work has been underway to revise the school’s name and the tragic discovery of the remains of 215 residential school students in Kamloops, B.C. “emphasized the importance of reconciliation and the need to demonstrate our commitment to the students we serve.”
The City of Calgary previously changed the name of the Langevin Bridge to the Reconciliation Bridge to remove ties to Hector-Louis Langevin, a father of Confederation, who oversaw the system where thousands of Indigenous children were taken from their families and placed into residential schools.
The passing of the motion followed Mayor Nenshi’s declaration in Monday’s council meeting calling on the CBE to change the name of Langevin School and for the Calgary Catholic School District to rename Bishop Grandin High School.
As recently as March, the CBE refused to hear a trustee’s motion on changing Langevin’s name saying it wasn’t an “emergent item.”
“The Board is currently focusing attention on finalizing a process including criteria by which schools, including Langevin School, may be considered for renaming,” the CBE said at the time. “The board recognizes the significant nature of this work and are approaching this work thoughtfully, while remaining committed to respectful dialogue that honours the traditions of schools and the interests of all concerned stakeholders.”
The Calgary Catholic School District, in a letter to parents sent Tuesday, announced any decision on the possible renaming of Bishop Grandin High School would be part of a process involving the community.
“The Calgary Catholic School District takes all Indigenous matters seriously and are deeply saddened by the discovery in Kamloops,” said Dr. Bryan Szumlas, CCSD chief superintendent. “As Catholics, we are deeply sorry for the residential school movement of the past. We are committed to the education recommendations in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission: Calls to Action report.
“When it comes to the possible renaming of a CCSD school(s), the Board of Trustees will be considering feedback from stakeholders such as parents, staff, students, Catholic Bishops and Elders in our Indigenous community.
“It is easy to be distracted on other issues like changing names of schools, but we are staying strong, in devoting this week to prayer for the loss of the Indigenous children. On Friday, we encourage you to join us as we pause for 215 seconds of silent prayers in memory of the children.”