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Change the name of Dan Knott School, we should not honour KKK supporter!

This petition made change with 7,833 supporters!


This petition requests that the Edmonton Public School Board immediately move to rename Dan Knott School, located at 1434 80 Street NW, Edmonton, Alberta.  Dan Knott supported the Ku Klux Klan and should not have his name above the entrance to an inclusive place of learning.  It’s time to acknowledge this part of our history, and do better going forward.

“This petition is important to me because it’s a time for change. I recently found out that the school was named after a mayor that was affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan. I live in the same neighbourhood as the school and many of my friends attend Dan Knott Junior High School. The school says they are inclusive to everyone, and I believe that the staff are, but I won’t let it be named after someone who didn’t stand against the Klan. The Klan in fact lit a cross on fire at Connor’s Hill the night Dan Knott was elected mayor to celebrate. As a citizen of Edmonton, I just recently found out about the Klan’s history in Alberta and I know a lot of other people are not aware. We need to teach students, and even adults, about our dark history after all these years of it being suppressed. I think that this petition is the first step to raise awareness of this history that not many people are aware of in our society.”

-Aimee Dorsey, Grade 8 Student, Mill Woods

Information and Sources

Did you know that Edmonton has a history of KKK activity?  We just learned this very recently and it's a little shocking!  The Klan's propaganda publication was printed right here in Edmonton for a few years in the early 1930's as well.

It's no coincidence that Dan Knott's term as Mayor and a heightened period of popularity of the KKK in Edmonton occur simultaneously.  After reviving the KKK movement in Saskatchewan, John James Maloney moved to Edmonton in 1930 to restore the Alberta Ku Klux Klan.  Maloney travelled around opening new chapters and regularly gave speeches to crowds in the hundreds.  The Klan directed its hate towards central and eastern European Catholics, including Ukrainians, as well as African-Americans who migrated to Alberta. In 1931 Maloney campaigned for mayoral candidate, Daniel Knott.  On the night that Dan Knott won the election, there was a cross burning in celebration on Connor’s Hill. 

Dan Knott went on to approve rally's for the Ku Klux Klan at the Edmonton Exhibition Grounds where cross burnings took place with the full approval and support of Mayor Dan Knott.  There are copies of the correspondence between the KKK and the Mayor in the articles below.

The Edmonton Public School Board’s recent statement on Anti-Racism and Inclusion commits to being a place where every student and staff person feels they belong.  Developing a policy for renaming schools has been on the Edmonton Public School Board’s agenda since October 2017. 

“It’s 2017, and it’s no longer appropriate, thankfully, to name public buildings — particularly public schools — after those who held racist views. It’s just unacceptable,” -Trustee Trisha Estabrooks

“Board chairwoman Michelle Draper said in an interview she has yet to hear from any constituents who would like to see public schools renamed. It could take the three-member policy committee months, or even a year, to develop a roadmap, she said.”

https://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/public-school-board-prepares-to-deal-with-requests-to-rename-schools

Knowing what we know now, how can we possibly go forward continuing to honour this man?  To provide a safe and welcoming environment for all, we must find a more appropriate and worthy name for this school, for our students, for our future.

We ask the board to make changing the name of Dan Knott School a top priority, the time is now!

If you agree, contact the School Board Trustee for Dan Knott School and let her know!

Ward I -Sherry Adams

Edmonton Public School Board

Centre for Education

1 Kingsway NW

Edmonton, Alberta T5H 4G9

Email: Sherry.Adams@epsb.ca

Phone: 780-429-8087

EDMONTON PUBLIC SCHOOL BOARD STATEMENT ON ANTI-RACISM AND INCLUSION

Thu, 4 Jun, 2020

The current protests in the U.S. and here in Canada have brought to the forefront the deep harm done by racism and discrimination, including here at home in Edmonton. We know that anti-Black racism and in fact all racism is an issue we must address through action as well as words.

As a public school division, we are committed to being a place where every student and staff person feels they belong. Our commitment compels us to do the work of promoting anti-racism and inclusion.

In collaboration with community members and students, our Board’s policy committee has been working over the last year to update our multiculturalism education policy. Our goal: to bring our commitment to anti-racist education and practice into a formal board policy.

We acknowledge that racism and discrimination exists in our division and for that we are sorry.  We also acknowledge that we have work to do. As a publicly elected board of Trustees we are committed to learning, and that means we must also be open to learning too. We are not perfect. We must continue to listen, learn and collaborate, so that our schools are welcoming, caring, respectful and safe places for every one of our students, staff and families.

https://epsb.ca/news/boardoftrustees/newsitemboardstatementonanti-racism.html

We know this is only a tiny step towards ridding white supremacy from our educational institutions.  There is much work to be done by the Edmonton Public School Board to truly live up to their Statement on Anti-Racism and Inclusion.  Making real and important changes towards eliminating systemic discrimination cannot be completed while we simultaneously continue to honour a man who supported the KKK.

Special thanks to Rebecca Jade, Chris Chang-Yen Phillips and Bashir Mohamed for the research they’ve completed through the City of Edmonton and Provincial Archives which brought this part of our history to light and to everyone who shares the information to raise awareness.

TO LEARN MORE:

Let's Find Out - A podcast about Edmonton History, Episode 4: The Klan Query (Chris Chang-Yen Phillips - October 26, 2016)

"This episode: The Klan Query. Rebecca Jade asks whether we can put a plaque where the Ku Klux Klan used to publish their newspaper in Edmonton – The Liberator. Along the way we learn about the mayor and premier who lent support to the KKK, a fiery picnic, and what the point of a plaque is anyway."

https://letsfindoutpodcast.com/2016/10/26/episode-4-the-klan-query/

Link includes photos of articles from The Liberator and correspondence between Mayor Dan Knott and the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of Alberta granting permission to use the Edmonton Exhibition grounds where "an open air initiation will be held, during the course of which a fiery cross will be burned" in August 1932 and July 1933.

CBC: A dark chapter: should Edmonton's KKK history be acknowledged? (Wallis Snowdon - November 29, 2016)

Seeking more political control, Maloney moved to Edmonton in 1930, restored the Alberta Ku Klux Klan, and declared himself the Imperial Wizard.

He began canvassing the countryside to establish new chapters and collect membership fees, and soon gained powerful allies with a message that was not only hostile toward immigrants and people of colour, but also viciously anti-Catholic.

The KKK hosted lavish dinners and public gatherings, attended by hundreds. In 1931, the group celebrated Daniel Knott's mayoral victory by lighting a fiery cross on Connors Hill."

Full article:

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/a-dark-chapter-should-edmonton-s-kkk-history-be-acknowledged-1.3872961

University of Alberta: Citizen historian determined to expose Edmonton's racist past to reconcile and move forward (Geoff McMaster - February 01, 2019)

"According to U of A historian Susan Smith, the Klan existed in a number of Alberta towns, including Edmonton, and membership peaked at 5,000 to 7,000 people during the '20s and '30s. It directed its energy against central and eastern European Catholics, including Ukrainians, as well as African-Americans who had migrated to Alberta from American states like Oklahoma.

In 1931, the Klan's Alberta Grand Wizard, J.J. Maloney, campaigned for Edmonton mayoral candidate Daniel Knott. When Knott won the election, the Klan burned a cross on Connor's Hill in celebration. Once mayor, Knott granted the Klan permission to hold a rally at Edmonton Exhibition Grounds, now Northlands-complete with cross burnings-despite the fire chief's concerns about the risk.

A junior high school on Edmonton's south side is now named in Knott's honour."

"To solve the problems we need to accept the past.  If we can acknowledge this history, and reconcile it, that's the best way to move forward." -Bashir Mohamed

Full article:

https://www.ualberta.ca/arts/faculty-news/2019/february/citizen-historian-determined-to-expose-edmontons-racist-past-to-reconcile-and-move-forward.html

Edmonton Journal: Opinion: Edmonton's legacy of systemic racism continues today (Bashir Mohamed - June 5, 2020)

In 1931, at the height of the Klan’s power, the Klan’s leader J.J. Maloney wanted Daniel Knott to be mayor of Edmonton. He won. On election night, the Klan burned a cross on Connors Hill to celebrate. Once in office, the Klan would request cross burnings and Knott would approve them on the condition that “no smoking would be allowed.”

Knott’s portrait is one step outside the mayor’s office and a school is named after him. The school’s logo is a fire-breathing dragon. The Klan only lost their legal status in Alberta in 2003.

Understanding the Klan allows us to understand modern white supremacy and systemic discrimination. This is because the Klan’s full name was “Invisible Empire Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.” “Invisible Empire” comes from politicians who would tell the Klan that they could not support them publicly — only in private.

Thus the Klan recognized that their support not only came from men in hoods but from the silent support and complacency of the general public. Because of this, I would argue that the invisible empire still exists and that our police forces and municipal politicians contribute to this empire through their inaction.

Full article:

https://edmontonjournal.com/opinion/columnists/opinion-edmontons-legacy-of-systemic-invisible-racism-continues-to-this-day

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