Creston’s high school, formerly Prince Charles Secondary, has been renamed Kootenay River Secondary in an act of reconciliation.
According to School District 8 Creston trustee Becky Coons, the name was chosen in a unanimous decision after consultation with the Lower Kootenay Band.
“We see reconciliation as a long-overdue process in our province, our country, towns and even school districts,” said Coons. “We see this as a confident, bold act that’s long overdue, but we’re happy to be a part of it.”
The new name was formally adopted by the school after the district board meeting on Dec. 7.
According to the school district, an online survey was launched to gather opinions from students, parents, staff, and the community. Focus groups and a virtual town hall were also held to get feedback on the possible names.
The proposed names were Creston Valley Secondary School, Kootenay River Secondary School and Creston Kutenai Secondary School.
In the first round of consultation, 1,126 people voted on their top pick, with the top two contenders being Creston Valley Secondary School (66 per cent) and Kootenay River Secondary School (16 per cent). The top two names were put forward for discussion at follow-up meetings.
A small majority of the respondents to the final round of the survey preferred Creston Valley Secondary School, but the school’s leadership team met with the Lower Kootenay Band chief and council to share the information.
“The group stated their acceptance of both names but stated a clear preference for Kootenay River Secondary School because of the importance of the river and connection to the land and to their creation story,” said school board officials. “It was also noted that CVSS was similar to the name used in the past and Kootenay River Secondary School would signify a new beginning.”
Lower Kootenay Band Chief Jason Lourie said the school’s new title is a welcomed change.
“I want to commend a lot of the student body, who actually advocated for the school’s name to be changed to Kootenay River Secondary School, which is not only inclusive to the First Nations but to all people who reside in the valley,” said Louie. “Coming from the students, I think it makes it that much more meaningful.”
Louie added that this is a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done.
“There really needs to be acknowledgement in education that the royal family has a history of colonization, particularly with Indigenous people,” explained Louie. “It’s a progressive step forward for our students and all of our residents. We, as a society, need to keep moving forward in this healing journey of reconciliation.”