The Cowichan Valley School District’s Board of Education has voted unanimously to name the region’s replacement high school Quw’utsun Secondary School.
It’s a reflection of the its commitment to reconciliation with the First Nations’ communities it serves, a press release said.
“The board is grateful for the knowledge and teachings passed on to us from the Cowichan Tribes Vision Committee. Each member of the board had strong support for this spelling adjustment and we are grateful that our next school will so accurately reflect our commitment to our First Nations’ students and partners,” said board chair Cathy Schmidt.
The Board of Education made their decision on March 7.
“The current spelling of Cowichan is an anglicized version of the Hul’q’umi’num’ name of Quw’utsun, the nation whose territory this new school is built on,” according to a press release issued by the school district.
The release notes the spelling adjustment comes after consultation with the Cowichan Tribes Vision Committee, which consisted of Cowichan Sul’hween (elders), district Indigenous education staff, Indigenous students, and senior district staff.
School district director of communications, Mike Russell, noted in the release that the board acknowledges that Cowichan Secondary, dubbed ‘Cow High’, has seen generations of students pass through over the last 70 years and is an institution that contributes fond memories to the foundations of many families. Russell said the current school is also one that represents another side within the community.
“Cowichan Secondary was built at a time when, across the country, the educational system was used to destroy Indigenous knowledge and culture rather than empower it as is done today,” Russell wrote in the release. “This multi-generational trauma is still very relevant to many in communities across Canada. A spelling correction for the new Quw’utsun Secondary stands to help the community heal through the collective journey towards reconciliation.”