First Nations name reflects culture and diversity of student population and geography
POWELL RIVER, BC, Sept. 25, 2023 /CNW/ - The Powell River Board of Education has adopted 'qathet' ? a gifted ayajuthem word which signifies working together, as the new name for the school district. Effective immediately, the district will go forward as qathet School District in all communications and will initiate the legal and legislative process to do the same.
Removing the name Powell from the District's name is significant; he was the first superintendent of Indian Affairs in British Columbia who reigned for 17 years and represents a colonial structure that oppressed and harmed First Nations people in countless ways.
"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. A new name signals that we value all students and are committed to building strong relationships moving forward," said Dale Lawson, Board Chair, qathet School District.
The Board of Trustees publicly expressed its commitment to a name change in 2022. The timing of today's announcement, days before the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, seemed appropriate.
"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," Dale continued. "We know that changing our name is but one step in our reconciliation efforts and our commitment to advancing the implementation of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People, but it is an important one and we are grateful to the Tla'amin Nation for working with us on this endeavour."
"Today, we are witnessing something important. An education system that was once used to strip our identity, language and culture is adopting our ayajuthem language for its new name. 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" said Hegus John S. Hackett of Tla'amin Nation.
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 District also has two schools beyond the City limits of Powell River, but within the qathet Regional District.
In partnership with Tla'amin, a naming ceremony will be planned later in the year to officially celebrate our new name. The existing school district logo, with a name edit, will remain in effect for an interim period until an entire new logo, brand and visual identify is created and rolled out in the 2023/2024 school year.
qathet School District is situated in the beautiful coastal community on the Upper Sunshine Coast, about 150 km north of Vancouver, surrounded by the qathet Regional District and on the traditional territory of the Tla'amin Nation. The District serves approximately 3,400 students in five elementary schools, one remote island elementary school, one online learning school, an alternate school, and one secondary school. All but 2 'bricks and mortar' schools are within the City of Powell River.
SOURCE SD 47 - Powell River Board of Education