Central Kootenay school erases royal's name from its title as an act of reconciliation

·2 min read
Vice-principal Mike Nelson of Creston Valley Secondary School in Creston, B.C., removes the first letter of Prince Charles's name from the school's exterior signage at a ceremony last Friday. (Jeff Banman - image credit)
Vice-principal Mike Nelson of Creston Valley Secondary School in Creston, B.C., removes the first letter of Prince Charles's name from the school's exterior signage at a ceremony last Friday. (Jeff Banman - image credit)

Teacher Ki Louie says it felt good when the Central Kootenay school he's working at finally ditched its colonial name in the interests of reconciliation.

Last Friday, the former Prince Charles Secondary School in Creston, B.C., held a ceremony to remove the royal family member's name from its exterior signage — just three days after the Kootenay Lake School District voted unanimously to order the deletion.

School District 8 will temporarily refer to the school as Creston Valley Secondary School. Meanwhile, district staff will look at a process for a permanent name change, according to the school board's resolution last Tuesday.

Louie has been teaching social studies at the school since February 2016, eight years after graduating there.

"As an athlete, when I played for that school, I didn't like that we played for Prince Charles. I wanted to play for my home community," Louie said Monday to Chris Walker, the host of CBC's Daybreak South.

Jeff Banman
Jeff Banman

Louie says his fellow Lower Kootenay Indian Band members have been discussing for decades whether the Prince of Wales's name should be removed from the school's title.

He says the preliminary discovery of as many as 215 children's remains at the former Kamloops residential school last month led him to propose the name change on the school's behalf at the school board meeting.

"What mostly surprised me was how immediately they voted on it," Louie said. "It was an emotional time — my principal was with me and we celebrated."

His uncle, Robert Louie — who in 1971 was the first ever Indigenous graduate from the school — says he's proud of his nephew's achievement.

"I admire him and I adore all his work … [to] call for a change," he said on Daybreak South.

Submitted by Ki Louie
Submitted by Ki Louie

Today, Louie says he sometimes wonders how he managed to graduate amid the anti-Indigenous racism back in the 1960s — and he is thankful for his alma mater's name change.

"It's a long time coming," he said. "The Queen to me was just a fairy tale. We need something more concrete of who the Creston mates can relate to."

There's no timeline yet for when the new school name will be adopted, but Louie Jr. says it should be something inclusive.

"Something that we'd like to say is people from different areas of the valley who come to our school can get behind and benefit from something that's inclusive, and that's what we're looking for — anything that will represent all of us here," he said.

Tap the link below to hear Robert and Ki Louie's interview on Daybreak South:

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