New school naming policy recognizes ‘language of the land’, Hul’q’umi’num’

·2 min read

A new policy for naming and renaming schools and facilities in Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools district has been adopted by the board of education.

“To ensure a facility name stands the test of time, it must reflect the spirit and intent of the board’s commitment to high standards and wellness of the community,”

The policy was drafted within the school district’s Syeyutsus Policy Framework; part of it comprises “understanding and embracing the teachings of this land on which we live and work as a basis for our journey to truth and reconciliation.”

“I think it’s important that we underscore the importance of acknowledging Hul’q’umi’num’ language, the language of this territory,” board Chair Charlene McKay said at the June 23 board meeting. “Revitalizing language, indigenous language, is an important responsibility that this board should undertake as a true component of reconciliation.”

Part of the new policy states that the board “may name or co-name a facility to reflect the language of the land, Hul’q’umi’num’ ” with consent from the local land-based First Nation and that the name must also be gifted to the district “to ensure consistent future use.” The Hul’q’umi’num’ dialect the language of the Snaw-naw-as, Snuneymuxw, Stz’uminus, Penelakut, Halalt, Quw’utsun’ and Malahat peoples, according to the Hul’q’umi’num’ Language Academy.

Names chosen may “honour persons or places of historical or geographical prominence, represent the intent of the school or reflect an educational value or interest,” the policy says. It also includes a process for renaming school facilities. Circumstances that could trigger that include an existing name not aligning with board policies or if the board receives a request from the community that aligns with the board’s naming policy.

No major changes were made to the policy following the public consultation, Secretary-Treasurer Mark Walsh said; however, questions raised regarding how the district will consider the naming of French immersion schools as well as requested items such as memorial plaques, trees and benches will be addressed through an administrative procedure that will be drafted and brought to the board in the fall.

Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder

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