Residents push back against renaming Ucluelet Secondary School

Residents push back against renaming Ucluelet Secondary School

“We are just fine thanks, put the money into our children’s education.”

As Ucluelet Secondary School students get set for their holiday break, the debate over the name of their school wages on.

Following a new naming policy spurred by a Port Alberni school being named after controversial figure A.W. Neill, School District 70 announced it was considering changing Ucluelet Secondary’s name to be more inclusive of the students who travel from other communities to attend, including Tofino.

READ MORE: Name change considered at Ucluelet Secondary School to reflect students from Tofino

The school board recently released two possibilities: Pacific Rim Secondary and West Coast Secondary.

School board chair Pam Craig explained that those two names are strictly suggestions and other names could also be considered.

“We’re not voting on them. It’s an opportunity to make a suggestion. Those were the names that came forward as the trustees discussed possibilities. And, they do reflect the region and they do [have] a bit more inclusiveness of the West Coast or Pacific Rim,” Craig told the Westerly News. “There may be a whole lot of others people would like to see and maybe they don’t want anything different. But, this is an opportunity and we want to take the opportunity when the school is being regenerated.”

The provincial government made a massive funding announcement in June when B.C.’s Minister of Education Rob Fleming arrived in Ucluelet and committed $45 million to a partial replacement of USS and seismic upgrades at neighbouring Ucluelet Elementary School.

READ MORE: B.C. announces $45 million investment in Ucluelet schools

Craig said that rebuild would lead to a new school environment for USS students.

“There’s an opportunity here, let’s take advantage of it. It’s going to be a different school. Kids are going to be so excited to be in a new environment and, in my way of thinking, it’s really a renewal and oftentimes a rebranding will help to perpetuate that excitement,” she said.

She said a cost-estimate for the name change should be known in January, but noted new signage would be needed for the school regardless because of the rebuild.

“Things aren’t as difficult nowadays with technology to make letterhead changes and things like that,” she said. “Anything we’ve talked about is quite minor, it’s not a huge cost.”

Craig said feedback will be collected throughout the winter and the board expects to make an official decision in February.

“People may have a different idea, they may have suggestions they’d like to bring forward and we’ll consider those and it’s actually up to the seven members of the board to make the final decision,” she said. “People are thinking. People are making suggestions and, again, we’ll take all of those suggestions into consideration before we make a decision.”

The feedback window is open to anyone and a new email address has been created for residents to have their say about the school’s name at namechange@SD70.bc.ca.

Jen McLeod is one of the residents who wrote in, expressing her opposition to changing the name. McLeod has two children attending Ucluelet Elementary and hopes both will get to attend Ucluelet Secondary.

“As a taxpayer and as a parent, I think it’s a waste of money,” she said. “I think that there are better things that could be done with the money it would take to [change the name]. Getting new school equipment and improving our programming would be a better use of taxpayers money…There’s nothing wrong with the name. It falls under their guidelines already of naming it after a region and I feel that it’s not inappropriate. I don’t think it’s exclusive to call it Ucluelet Secondary School.”

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation member and resident of Ty-Histanis Hjalmer Wenstob is a graduate of Ucluelet Secondary School and a father of two young children. He told the Westerly he doesn’t feel a name change is necessary and questioned the two suggestions the school board has put forward.

“I think, more than anything, it’s just tiring to me. Do we really need to change the name at this point in time? And, if we are changing the name, why aren’t we discussing giving it a traditional Nuu-chah-nulth name? Why isn’t that discussion even really happening?” he said. “I was surprised that the two options we were posed with were two locational names, not ones that have any call to Nuu-chah-nulth history or even a nod…I thought it was about this path towards reconciliation or decolonization and, instead, it was just changing the name from Ucluelet to something else that encapsulates the West Coast. I think that’s pretty tiring.”

READ MORE: Tla-o-qui-aht artist celebrates first solo show in Victoria

Municipal councillor and lifelong Uclueletian Lara Kemps told the Westerly her uncle was a member of USS’ first graduating class and she’s urging residents to have their voices heard by sending their thoughts to the school district.

“Our school name has history behind it, not only does Ucluelet mean ‘people of the safe harbour’ in the Indigenous Nuu-chah-nulth language, many of us from Ucluelet, Tofino and surrounding communities have gone to school here. We are proud to say where we went to school and I am certain my children will feel the same,” she said. “I believe this time and expense could be better spent on many things that benefit our children instead of this ‘re-branding’ exercise. We are just fine thanks, put the money into our children’s education.”



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

READ MORE: New vice principal loving life at Ucluelet Elementary School

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Residents and supporters of Tofino’s Crab Apple Campground gathered at the Village Green on April 13 to draw attention to their concerns over losing their homes. The campground’s temporary use permit, which allows it to offer sites to Tofino residents, expires in October. The town’s council rejected an application that same day that would have permitted the campground to operate as a tourist commercial accommodation. (Andrew Bailey photo)
Crab Apple residents fear losing their homes as campground’s permit running out in Tofino

Council rejects application to allow campground to operate as tourist accommodation.

The entrance to the Lodge Property on Reef Point Road in Ucluelet. (Nora O’Malley photo)
The entrance to the Lodge Property on Reef Point Road in Ucluelet. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Ucluelet council approves the Lodge Property application

The decision changes the land use designation from Residential to Tourist Commercial

Wickaninnish (Clifford Atleo) plays the drum while singing the Nuu-chah-nulth song on the court steps in Vancouver In a picture from April 2018. Photo credit, Melody Charlie.
Five Nuu-chah-nulth Nations celebrate legal victory in fishing dispute

Ha’oom Fisheries Society and T’aaq-wiihak Fisheries announce “major legal victory”

Polystyrene has been outlawed as a take-out option for restaurants in Tofino and Ucluelet. (Black Press Media file photo)
Tofino and Ucluelet ban polystyrene take-out containers

Surfrider Pacific Rim chapter manager Lilly Woodbury touted the new ban as “definitely terrific news”

A lone traveler enters the Calgary Airport in Calgary, Alta., Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
VIDEO: Trudeau defends Canada’s travel restrictions as effective but open to doing more

Trudeau said quarantine hotels for international air travellers will continue until at least May 21

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson leaves the assembly with Premier John Horgan after the budget speech Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Paid sick leave for ‘hard-hit’ workers left out of provincial budget: BCGEU

‘For recovery to be equitable it requires supports for workers, not just business,’ says union president Laird Cronk

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

In this image from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, center, is taken into custody as his attorney, Eric Nelson, left, looks on, after the verdicts were read at Chauvin’s trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Court TV via AP, Pool
George Floyd’s death was ‘wake-up call’ about systemic racism: Trudeau

Derek Chauvin was found guilty Tuesday on all three charges against him

A total of 10 flight exposures have affected the Victoria International Airport in April so far, making it the highest monthly total since the start of the pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hits record-breaking number of monthly COVID-19 flight exposures

As of April 21, 10 flight exposures reported for the month

Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Rowing Canada sanctions former head coach of B.C. varsity women’s team

Suspension of Barney Williams would be reversed if he complies with certain terms

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Most Read