Edmonton Catholic board trustees unanimously vote to rename Grandin school, remove mural from building exterior

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Grandin Catholic Elementary School will be renamed and a mural on the exterior wall removed following a unanimous vote from school board trustees Monday morning.

The Edmonton Catholic School Division now begins the process of selecting a new name for the 1914 school at 9844 110 St. school, first named after Bishop Vital-Justin Grandin. Chief superintendent Robert Martin said references to the name will be removed from the school as soon as possible.

Grandin was an advocate of the residential school system in Canada, believing it was the best way for Indigenous children to “forget the customs, habits and language of their ancestors.” Grandin lived in St. Albert where he expanded the Diocese of St. Albert, including the founding of new missions and churches throughout the province.

In bringing forward a recommendation to rename the school at the special Monday morning meeting, board chairwoman Sandra Palazzo said recent discoveries of unmarked graves at residential schools has caused Canadians to reflect on the impact of historical names. The school was named more than 105 years ago and Palazzo said it is clear it no longer upholds current societal values.

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“It is incumbent upon us to ensure we are not honouring any aspect of the legacy of the residential school system or further traumatizing members of the Indigenous communities we presently serve,” she said. “We strongly believe that truth must be acknowledged to move forward to reconciliation. Together we call upon all our collective communities to build a stronger understanding of all peoples who dwell on this land we call home.”

The bodies of 215 children were discovered at a former Kamloops residential school a month ago and just last week, 751 unmarked graves were found at a school site at the former Marieval residential school in Saskatchewan.

Voting in favour of the recommendation to change the school name, trustee Debbie Engel said the practice of residential schools should never have been deemed acceptable in Canada and those involved in creating the process shouldn’t be honoured.

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“We are living in a time when we are critically examining our own history and evaluating it through our humane perspective,” she said. “One thing we can do right now is to ensure we are not elevating historical figures whose actions, actions that should have never been deemed acceptable at any point in our history, no longer reflect our societal values.”

Earlier this month, Edmonton city council unanimously voted to remove the Grandin name from an LRT station as well as cover up a mural reflecting the residential school system following the discovery in Kamloops. The process to change the name of the station as well as the neighbourhood of Oliver is ongoing and a new policy on renaming will be brought forward to council by the city’s naming committee in August. Frank Oliver was an Edmonton-based federal politician who was instrumental in the removal of Indigenous people from their land.

The Edmonton Public School Board voted to rename Oliver School last September, but a new name hasn’t yet been determined.

duscook@postmedia.com

twitter.com/dustin_cook3 

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