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Powell River Board of Education changes its name

Henceforth, qathet School District will be used in all communications
EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY: The region’s school district will now be known as qathet School District, in an effort to help extinguish the colonial past, according to the school district.

Powell River Board of Education has adopted qathet, a gifted word from Tla’amin Nation that signifies working together, as the new name for the school district.

According to a media release, effective immediately, the district will go forward as qathet School District in all communications and will initiate the legal and legislative process to do so.

The release stated that removing the name Powell from the name is significant. He was the first superintendent of Indian Affairs in BC, was in office for 17 years, and represents a colonial structure that oppressed and harmed First Nations people in countless ways, according to the release.

“As a school district, we have a responsibility to create the conditions that will provide the best quality of education for every student to succeed in school and life,” stated board chairperson Dale Lawson. “A new name signals that we value all students and are committed to building strong relationships moving forward.”

The release stated that the board of trustees publicly expressed its commitment to a name change in 2022. The timing of the announcement, days before the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30, was deemed appropriate, according to the release.

“Our commitment to Indigenous education in schools and our efforts towards decolonization and Indigenization run all year, however, this week, as we shine a light on the history and legacy of the colonial system, we can now connect the learning to the name change decision as a concrete example of action for students, and also open dialogue around harmful naming practices,” stated Lawson. “We know that changing our name is but one step in our reconciliation efforts and our commitment to advancing the implementation of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People, but it is an important one and we are grateful to Tla’amin Nation for working with us on this endeavour.”

Tla’amin hegus John Hackett stated that something important is being witnessed.

“An education system that was once used to strip our identity, language and culture is adopting our ayajuthem language for its new name,” stated Hackett. “This change marks a new day in our relationship, and what could be better than qathet, which means working together.

“The school district name change makes our region’s education system safer and more hospitable for Tla’amin kids and all Indigenous students.”

The release stated that the prevalence of qathet being used by other institutions in the region, and the region itself, also gave the board of trustees confidence that this name would offer ease of adoption by its students, staff, parents and the community. The school district also has two schools beyond city limits, but within qathet Regional District.

In partnership with Tla’amin, a naming ceremony will be planned for later in the year to officially celebrate the new name. The existing school district logo, with a name edit, will remain in effect for an interim period until an entirely new logo, brand and visual identity is created and rolled out in the 2023/2024 school year.

The release stated that the school district serves about 3,400 students in five elementary schools, one remote island elementary school on Texada Island, one online learning school, an alternate school and one secondary school.

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