Doors open at Kootenay River Secondary School in Creston

December 10th 2021

SD8 Board approves permanent name change for secondary school

At the December 7th, SD8 Board meeting, a motion to permanently change the name of the secondary school in Creston was unanimously passed. The school is now officially named the Kootenay River Secondary School.  

“A new name is necessary for a new start” said Principal Brian Hamm, who has been working together this year with a group of educators to find an inclusive name for the school, one that bestows the spirit of reconciliation.

“The Kootenay River connects us to the land, connects us all and has been the most sacred of spaces for the Ktunaxa people since time immemorial” shared local teacher Ki Louie. Ki Louie was instrumental in bringing the name change request forward from the very beginning of this process and last year also worked with students and local Lower Kootenay Band elders to rename the school library to Yaqsumit (the Ktuanxa word for canoe).

At a ceremony held at the school December 8th, Principal Hamm welcomed special guest Chief Jason Louie of the Lower Kootenay Band to do the honour of opening the doors and welcoming the first generation of Kootenay River Secondary School students to enter the school under its new name.

Through consultation with the SD8 Public Engagement Framework, the district facilitated an engagement process throughout the month of November, which included an open survey for the public, a virtual Town Hall and a focus group with key stakeholders.

The online survey was completed by 1126 respondents and seemingly provided a balanced sample of the community, including demographics of students, parents, alumni, staff and residents. The top two names selected from the survey were Creston Valley Secondary School and Kootenay River Secondary School.  View survey results

The virtual Town Hall, hosted by the district on November 17th, 2021, provided little feedback, nor objections to the proposal of taking the top two names forward in the process. The following day, a focus group session reviewed and discussed the survey results at length, opening the floor to key stakeholder groups to provide feedback.

The focus group session offered an opportunity for a well-informed, community-connected group to hear what other groups had to say, and thereafter formed a very constructive conclusion.

“We feel strongly that the intent of the PCSS name change was towards active reconciliation,” said Superintendent Trish Smillie, “And so it was our heartfelt desire for the Lower Kootenay Band be reconsulted with the final two names being proposed to ensure we select a name that is welcoming for all students.”

The district and Board of Education would like to thank the school leadership team (Ki Louie, Jeff Banman, Mike Nelson and Brian Hamm), the focus group participants and all members of the public that participated in this important public engagement process.

“With the spirit of reconciliation central to this decision, the Board of Education hopes this renaming also demonstrates our dedication to building awareness and actively working to dismantle racism in our schools” commented Lenora Trenaman, Board Chair SD8 Kootenay Lake.

A formal public event will be planned later in the school year to commemorate the school’s new name.

For more information:

Trish Smillie – Superintendent of Schools