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Langevin School to be renamed Riverside School: CBE Trustees

The Calgary Board of Education has renamed the Langevin School as the Riverside School, effective immediately.

The decision came after a special board of trustees meeting on Monday, according to the Calgary Board of Education.

“The board of trustees has heard concerns from students, staff and community members about the Langevin name,” a media statement read.

“The tragic discovery in Kamloops and the reaction shared by Canadians has emphasized the importance of reconciliation and the need to demonstrate our commitment to the students we serve.”

The school had previously been named Riverside Junior High School before a name change to Langevin School in 1936.

Reaction from Change Langevin

The school has been the subject of a lengthy campaign to have the name changed. Over the weekend, there was a yarn-bombing of the fences around Langevin to raise aware of the name change.

Community groups had been pushing for the change, especially after the city changed the Langevin Bridge to Reconciliation Bridge.

Lori Helfenbaum, who is a member of the Change Langevin School committee, said that actions should have been made sooner. 

“My reaction was mixed. It’s so tragic that it took the finding of 215 bodies for non-indigenous people to recognize the devastation left behind from residential schools,” Helfenbaum said.

“That being said, this does feel like an important victory and we hope that this is one small step towards larger systemic changes that need to happen.”

Nenshi: Sooner rather than later

In Monday’s combined meeting of council, the discovery of the bodies in Kamloops was discussed. Mayor Naheed Nenshi said that the Langevin name and that of Bishop Grandin High School should be changed at the next respective board meetings.

The CBE had been accused in the past of making excuses for not changing the Langevin name. They had said that there’s a process a school must go through to have the name changed.

Marilyn Dennis, chair of the CBE board of trustees, said that change was being planned before the discovery of the 215 bodies at the Kamloops residential school. They decided upon the immediate name change before those naming rules were confirmed.

“Our sincere hope is that the community of Riverside School can embrace their new name and to create a identity they are proud of,” Dennis said.

Dennis said with the governance review, future name changes can be carried out in a more efficient manner.

“What is interesting is we are currently developing a policy and process that will be used to consider name changes in the CBE,” she said.

“We look forward to having that policy work completed soon and it will be deliberated in a public meeting at the end of the month.” 

In a statement posted to the Calgary Catholic School website, they acknowledged the residential school discovery. They also said they’re committed to reconciliation in their education, but wouldn’t commit to an immediate name change.

“As Catholics, we are deeply sorry for the residential school movement of the past,” the statement read.

“When it comes to the possible renaming of a CCSD school(s), the Board of Trustees will be considering feedback from stakeholders such as parents, staff, students, Catholic Bishops and Elders in our Indigenous community.”