Coal Tyee elementary school in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file)

Coal Tyee elementary school in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file)

Nanaimo Ladysmith school board votes to proceed with re-naming Coal Tyee elementary

Board chairperson says SD68’s naming policy is well-laid-out

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools will proceed with a plan to rename Coal Tyee Elementary School.

At the school district’s Jan. 26 board meeting, trustees unanimously approved a motion to form a committee to rebrand the central Nanaimo school in order to align with district policy. School district staff had informed the board about a desire to change the school’s name at an education committee meeting earlier in the month.

“When a request like this comes from the school itself, and the staff and the parents – they have already done a lot of the initial conversations within that school community – I believe we have a responsibility to honour that, explore it and have those community conversations,” said Tania Brzovic, education committee chairperson, at the board meeting.

Charlene McKay, school board chairperson, said the committee is the next step, and added that SD68’s school naming policy is well-laid-out.

“It will consider a significant amount of consultation as we consider what that process looks like and who gets spoken with,” she said.

According to a staff report, the name Coal Tyee (great coal chief) was previously thought to represent “collaboration between the colonial and Indigenous peoples” and Nanaimo’s coal mining history, but he is now considered “a tragic figure given his interaction with the colonial peoples led directly to purposeful colonization of the area and destructive resource extraction that has impacted the land.”

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