Statement on Renaming Grandin School
The Board of Trustees of Edmonton Catholic Schools has voted unanimously to rename Grandin School starting with the immediate removal of the name Grandin and the mural depicting Bishop Grandin from the exterior of the school building. During the Special Public Meeting of the Board on June 28, 2021, Board Chair Sandra Palazzo shared the following:
“We begin every meeting of this Board with a Land Acknowledgement. Edmonton Catholic Schools’ Land Acknowledgement, which is also used in all of our schools and sites, is rooted in the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We proclaim, “We, at Edmonton Catholic Schools, commit to restoring and honouring the Truth and Reconciliation calls to action; 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.”
In recent weeks, the discovery of the bodies of 215 children in unmarked graves at the Kamloops Residential School and the revelation of more graves at other residential school sites has caused Canadians to reflect deeply upon the impact of naming buildings and spaces after historical figures whose actions are no longer considered acceptable in our modern culture that values equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism.
Grandin Catholic Elementary School, which opened over 105 years ago, is named after Bishop Vital-Justin Grandin, OMI. It is a matter of historical fact that Bishop Grandin was a promoter of the residential school system. In a media release on May 30, 2021, his order, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, stated, “Through our own ongoing reflection, and the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, we are growing into a deepening awareness of the damage caused to Indigenous peoples, the enduring harm caused by colonization and the part our religious order played in it through the residential school system.”
In our ongoing journey as a school division committed to bringing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Calls to Action to life, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that 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.”
We do not have a modern-day example of when one of our schools has needed to be renamed as a result of the suitability of the existing name. As this situation is new, we will determine what the renaming process will be over the next few months. It is extremely important that we are thoughtful in renaming the school. We would rather take time and do it well and honour the voice of our stakeholders so that the school has a positive journey with a new identity.
WATCH BELOW: ECSD Special Board Meeting June 28, 2021