Students call for Sir John A. MacDonald School in northwest Calgary to be renamed

An art event was held Sunday by students calling for Sir John A. MacDonald School in northwest Calgary to be renamed.

“The school is just west of the Nose Hill Siksikaitsitapi Medicine Wheel, a monument that sits on traditional Blackfoot territory and holds spiritual and historical significance for the Blackfoot Confederacy,” read a release from the Reconciliation Action Group.  

The event was spearheaded by Makena Halvorsen, a 13-year-old student at the junior high school, after 215 graves were found near a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C.

Saying she wanted “to learn from history in order to not repeat it,” Halvorsen talked with her parents, who reached out to the Reconciliation Action Group.

She was then connected with youth leaders, Joy McCullagh and Zach and Seth Helfenbaum, who were part of thesuccessful effort to rename Langevin School in Bridgeland.

Canada’s first prime minister, MacDonald is also considered one of the architects of the residential school system in Canada.

“No Indigenous, Black, Chinese, or racialized students should have to attend a school with a name that is a constant reminder of such violence and abuse” said Halvorsen.

“Schools are supposed to be safe places to learn.”

The art event featured work from Adrian Stimson, tilted Name Your Change – Change Your Name in the form of knitted number sevens “to acknowledge the traditional territories of the Treaty 7 signatory nations,” read a release.

A Calgary Catholic School District school was also renamed Our Lady of the Rockies last year.

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