The Calgary Board of Education trustees said they’re “carefully considering a path forward” regarding a name change to one of their schools.
For some, that change needs to happen now.
Parents, students, community advocates, and politicians have recently been vying for a name change to the Langevin School in Bridgeland, named after Sir Hector-Louis Langevin, one of the Fathers of Confederation.
Langevin was also involved in the development of Canada’s residential school system.
One Calgarian said naming a school after him is shameful.
“It’s just so openly racist to have such a racist name on there,” said Michelle Robinson, an advocate for Calgary’s Indigenous community.
“It’s almost a pride to say, ‘Yes, we killed thousands of Indigenous people and we’re proud of it.’”
In November of 2020, Robinson was approached the mom of two boys who attend the school. Later on, another parent got involved and the initiative started to gain traction.
There are dozens of community members involved in the effort. Most recently, Ward 9 councillor Gian-Carlo Carra officially supported the initiative.
“Renaming the school does not repair the harm caused by Langevin’s legacy of colonization. Still, doing so is a meaningful step towards reconciliation,” he said in a letter to the school.
“I stand with the students, parents, staff, and community members who have been advocating for this change and hope that you will do the same.”
CBE response to name change
In a statement sent to LiveWire Calgary, attributed to the CBE’s Board of Trustees, they acknowledge that racism exists in society today and has existed throughout history.
“As a learning organization, we have a responsibility to support our students and families as we learn to confront racism and disrupt old patterns of thought and behaviour,” the Board statement read.
“Regarding concerns about the names of some of our schools, and the issue of renaming schools, the Board of Trustees is carefully considering a path forward.”
While the change is being considered, Robinson suggested a temporary alternative.
“I would actually encourage people to call it the Science School Bridgeland,” she said.
Similar to what’s going on with the name of the Football Team in Edmonton.
This would not be the first time something bearing Langevin’s name would be changed. In 2017, the Langevin Bridge connecting Bridgeland-Riverside to the downtown was renamed Reconciliation Bridge.
Educating not erasing
There have been concerns brought up by some that changing names, similar to removing statues, is a form of erasing history.
But Robinson said she doesn’t see that happening.
“Most people don’t know who Hector Langevin is,” she said.
“So, I’ve actually found the opposite; by changing the name, we’re teaching people the history, we’re teaching them of what he did.”