Rename the CBE Langevin Science School in order to stop honoring racist colonial policies

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Rename the CBE Langevin Science School in order to stop honoring racist colonial policies

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Change Langevin School Group started this petition to Honourable Adriana LaGrange (Minister of Education) and

We ask the CBE to rename the Langevin Science School in order to stop honouring a man that was instrumental in the implementation of the residential school system, and many other colonial assimilationist and genocidal policies towards Indigenous peoples.

We are asking the Calgary Board of Education to immediately rename the “Langevin Science School” to the “Bridgeland-Riverside Science School” as a tangible step consistent with the commitment made in 2021 to “advance equity, anti-racism and inclusion” by the CBE CARES committee.[1] As described in existing policy documents, we also ask the CBE to convene a School Naming Committee and select a permanent name for this school consistent with the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation, and to do so in a manner that truly reflects the importance of honourable Nation-to-Nation dialogue. 

We believe the current name is inappropriate because Hector-Louis Langevin was a vocal proponent of colonial, assimilationist and genocidal policies towards Indigenous peoples. As a cabinet minister he said the following words, which continue to cause harm today:

 “The fact is if you wish to educate these children you must first separate them from their parents during the time that they are being educated. If you leave them in the family they may know how to read and write, but they still remains savages, whereas by separating them in the way proposed, they acquire the habits and tastes – it is to be hoped only the good tastes – of civilized people.”[2]

He did not view Indigenous people as equals, and lead the implementation of racist policies at several levels including the establishment of the first Industrial Schools, the imposition of misogynistic non-traditional Band Council governance styles, and the creation of “Indigenous Status” definitions decided by the colonial government.[2,3]

 We believe expecting Indigenous students to walk into a school whose name honours a man who did such harm to their people is fundamentally inconsistent with the CBE’s responsibility to “provide safe and positive learning conditions […] that foster a sense of belonging and a respect for diversity”.[4] Honouring Langevin does not support Reconciliation. His name is inextricably linked to decades of intergenerational trauma which continues to affect Indigenous students, families and Canadian society as a whole.

Non-Indigenous students are also failed by an educational system that refuses to acknowledge the whole truth of our history. A name change which honours the spirit and content of the Calls to Action contained in the Final Report of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission[5] is necessary to ensure the CBE's core belief that “public education serves the common good”.[6] 

We note that many distinct governments from across the country have recognized the importance of removing Langevin’s name from various landmarks since at least 2017. Calgary City Council’s chose to re-name the Reconciliation bridge (formerly Langevin bridge).[7] The Office of the Prime Minister changed the name of their offices, which were formerly known as the Langevin Block.[8] Ottawa City Council renamed Langevin road after Algonquin elder William Commanda, who served as Chief of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation.[9]

In this time of Reconciliation, we should be working together in a Nation-to-Nation way. Accordingly, and as required by CBE Governance policy[10], we expect the School Renaming Committee to engage in meaningful, transparent dialogue with all community stakeholders. We ask that Committee membership include representatives of the Niitsitapi Nations (Blackfoot), Tsuut’ina Nation, Nakoda (Stoney) Nations and Métis.

 

Twitter: @ChangeLangevin

Instagram: @Change_Langevin_School

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E-mail: renamelangevinscienceschool@gmail.com

 

References

[1] Usi, Christopher. Chief Superintendent of Schools. Calgary Board of Education. https://cbe.ab.ca/news-centre/Pages/update-CBE-CARES.aspx. Last accessed 2021-03-28.

[2] Canada. Debates of the House of Commons, May 22, 1883, 1st Session, 5th Parliament, p. 1376. https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.9_07186_1_2/638?r=0&s=1. Last accessed 2021-03-28.

[3]  Archived - An Act for the gradual enfranchisement of Indians, the better management of Indian affairs, and to extend the provisions of the Act 31st Victoria, Chapter 42, S.C. 1869, c. 6. https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100010204/1100100010206. Last accessed 2021-03-28.

[4] CBE Operational Expectations policy OE-2. Adopted 2017-03-14. https://www.cbe.ab.ca/GovernancePolicies/OE-2.pdf. Last accessed 2021-03-28.

[5] Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Final Report Volumes 1 - 6. 2015. http://www.trc.ca/about-us/trc-findings.html Last accessed 2021-03-28.

[6] CBE Governance Policy GC-1. Adopted 2014-06-01. https://www.cbe.ab.ca/GovernancePolicies/GC-1.pdf. Last accessed 2021-03-28.

[7] Langevin Bridge to be renamed Reconciliation Bridge in spirit of 'truth and healing'. CBC News. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/reconciliation-bridge-langevin-residential- schools-indigenous-calgary-council-1.3942534. Last accessed 2021-03-28.

[8] Trudeau to drop name of residential schools proponent from Langevin building. Kathleen Harris,  CBC News. https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/trudeau-aboriginal-indigenous-day-1.4170695. Last accessed 2021-03-28.

[9] Ottawa renames Langevin Avenue after Algonquin leader William Commanda. Josh Pringle, CTV News. https://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/ottawa-renames-langevin-avenue-after-algonquin -leader-william-commanda-1.5284528. Last accessed on 2021-03-28

[10] CBE Governance Policy GC-5E. Adopted 2030-11-04. GC-5E https://www.cbe.ab.ca/GovernancePolicies/GC-5E.pdf. Last accessed 2021-03-28.

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