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Regina Public School Board votes to rename Davin School

Once the new school year begins in the fall, the school will be renamed The Crescents School after the neighbourhood that surrounds it.
Ashley Martin, Regina Leader-Post
Updated: June 19, 2018
http://leaderpost.com/news/local-news/regina-public-school-board-votes-to-rename-davin-school-will-be-crescents-school-beginning-in-the-fallThe Regina Public School Board voted to change the name of Davin School at its Tuesday evening meeting.

When the new school year begins in the fall, the school will be renamed The Crescents School after one neighbourhood that surrounds it.

“For me it came down to the fundamental fact that Davin School is a school,” said trustee Aleana Young.

“And having a children’s school named after someone who contributed to the creation and perpetuation of the residential schools system is fundamentally wrong.”

The seven-trustee school board has deliberated for at least nine months over the name of the school, which was built in 1929 and named in honour of Nicholas Flood Davin.

School board trustee Jay Kasperski voted against the name change of Davin School. The Regina Public School Board voted to change the name of Davin School at its Tuesday evening meeting. Once the new school year begins in the fall, the school will be renamed The Crescents School after the neighbourhood that surrounds it. TROY FLEECE / Regina Leader-Post

Davin was a Regina pioneer who authored an 1879 report that recommended that the federal government establish Indian residential schools.

Trustee Jane Ekong abstained from the vote, while trustee Jay Kasperski was the lone trustee to vote against the motion.

“I do feel it is arrogant hubris for a group of trustees in 2018 to revisit and correct a decision made almost 90 years ago,” said Kasperski, “without any framework to guide that decision.”

In November, the school board launched a five-question online survey, asking the public’s opinions on the school’s name. The 1,379 results have not been made public; the school division says responses were evenly split between keeping the name and changing it.

Trustee Adam Hicks, who was elected by people in the Davin School area, agreed he heard mixed reactions.

“Being connected and listening to the community has had one very clear message in the Cathedral area,” he said. “The clear message was ‘do not change the name.’”

In hearing all kinds of feedback, Hicks said a conversation with a First Nations chief stuck with him.

A bully can create unimaginable pain and suffering, which can change an individual and set them on a different path.

Even if the bully ceases to bully, the hurt doesn’t leave that bullied individual, and feelings can resurface years later.

“This is the story of Davin,” said Hicks.

The Regina Public School Board voted to change the name of Davin School at its Tuesday evening meeting. Once the new school year begins in the fall, the school will be renamed The Crescents School after the neighbourhood that surrounds it. TROY FLEECE / Regina Leader-Post

Hicks recommended that a public reconciliation event be held in the Cathedral area next school year.

A new plaque will be made for the school, detailing the history of the school name.

The name Davin remain on the building’s masonry as a historical element, as will a plaque about Davin that already exists at the school will remain.

The plaque reads in part: “Mr. Davin … championed the cause of the rights of new settlers.”

Administration further recommended that:

A document outlining the school’s history and the decision should be placed at the school for students, staff and visitors to peruse; and, that an exhibit of artifacts from the Treaty 4 area and the Regina Industrial School be installed in the Alex Youck Museum, located at the school board office.

The school board determined at its Sept. 5 meeting that it would decide by the end of the school year whether to keep or change the name of Davin School.

It has consulted with its Elders Advisory Committee on the topic.

At a Feb. 28 special meeting of electors, a motion was passed that the school board rename Davin School. The motion was not binding.

“I don’t want the public to think that just because (the motion) passed, that that signals an intent or a direction,” board chair Katherine Gagne said following that meeting.

However, community member Florence Stratton — a Davin School alumna who presented the motion — said she hoped the motion would “add further fuel to changing the name.”

“It’s unconscionable to have a school named Davin — a SCHOOL named Davin,” she added, “… and Davin was really instrumental in bringing about the genocidal residential school system.”

Update on Shattering the Silence ebook

In November, the Faculty of Education Tweeted this statistic: Only a few months after being published, the Shattering the Silence: The Hidden History of Indian Residential Schools ebook had 12,453 worldwide visitors to the ebook site. Since then the site has had 22,494 visitors! The word is spreading, thanks to opportunities at the U of R for Shuana Niessen to present about the book as well as the feature in Discourse Magazine.  The next presentation will be at the Regina Public Schools Teachers’ Convention, which will be held on February 16. The session already has 82 people signed up! If you haven’t already, be sure to visit the site  with a view to using the resource in whatever sector you work. Though the ebook was written with teachers in mind, and thus curricular links are available, it is useful for learning about Indian residential schools in Saskatchewan and can be of use for understanding many of the issues affecting society today.

President’s Distinguished Graduate Student Award Recipient

Congratulations to Sylvia Smith, Founder of Project of Heart, who received the President’s Distinguished Graduate Student Award at the fall 2017 convocation. This award recognizes outstanding academic performance and is granted to a student whose graduating thesis, exhibition, or performance and the corresponding defense was deemed meritorious by the examining committee.

How does it feel to be finished your master’s Sylvia? (Read about the obstacles she faced)

“GREAT! In some ways, I can’t believe it’s actually finished. I’ve never really thought of myself as an academic and certainly, with ‘life’ intruding the way it tends to, I never thought I would finish the darned thing. I’m just so lucky to have had a wonderfully supportive spouse and thesis committee (Dr. Carol Schick actually came out of retirement to help out) because they certainly didn’t have to do what they did.”

What excites you about your thesis?

“What excites me so very much is that my findings have already been referenced to support work being done around reconciliation and the necessity of teaching *for* justice and more practically, *doing* it. ”

Sylvia’s master’s thesis is called: Teachers’ Perceptions of Project of Heart, An Indian Residential School Education Project

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to gain insight into how settler teachers took up an arts and activist-based Indian Residential School Commemoration Project called Project of Heart. More specifically, it sought to assess whether or not the research participants were led to transformation, demonstrated through disrupting “common sense” (racist) behaviours of teachers and students as well as through their engagement in social justice work that Project of Heart espouses.

Since 2007, Ontario school boards have been required by Ministry policy to teach the “Aboriginal Perspective” in their high school courses, yet at the time of the study (2010), there were still very few resources available for educators to do so. There were even fewer resources available to teach about the Indian Residential School era. Project of Heart was created by an Ontario teacher and her students in 2007 in order to address this egregious situation.

The study was guided by grounded theory methods and the findings suggest that while Project of Heart did not achieve “transformation” in its participants as assessed through teachers’ lack of completion of the social justice requirement, teachers indicated that both students and teachers benefitted greatly because of the relevance of the learning.

Defended: April 2017

Thesis Committee:

Supervisor: Dr. Marc Spooner
External Examiner: Dr. Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and professor for the School of Social Work at McGill University
Thesis committee members: Dr. Ken Montgomery, University of Windsor, Dean, Faculty of Education and Dr. Carol Shick, former Canada Research Chair in Social Justice and Aboriginal Education

Read more about Sylvia and the Project of Heart here: http://www2.uregina.ca/education/news/disrupted-studies-a-teacher-researcher-success-story/