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Public school board votes to rename Davin School

Regina's Board of Education has voted to rename Davin School as Crescents School. Shawn Knox / Global News

The Regina Public School Board voted to change the name of Davin Elementary School Tuesday night. In the fall, the school will open its doors as The Crescents School.

For Simon Ash-Moccasin, the decision to strip his childhood school of Nicholas Flood Davin’s name is a sign of progress.

“I think it’s a long time coming,” the Sixties Scoop survivor said with a smile. “I’m happy the name changed. I think it shows Regina is willing to move forward.”

Davin was once celebrated as a lawyer, politician, and journalist; but more recently, he’s known as the man who laid the framework for residential schools. Davin was commissioned to research and write a report on whether the American boarding school system would transfer well into Canada. The ensuing paper was titled ‘Report on Industrial Schools for Indians and Half-Breeds.’

READ MORE: Regina Public Schools consulting public on Davin School name change

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Despite a letter from the Davin School Community Council opposing the change, the Board of Education voted to rename the 89-year-old building ‘The Crescents School’.

The letter argued the name wasn’t negatively affecting the school, and many people don’t associate Davin’s name with a positive or negative legacy.

Trustee Jay Kasperski was the only one to vote against the name change.

“If we walked out on the streets of Regina right now and threw out the name Davin, I don’t know that the majority of people would associate directly with the report on residential schools,” board chair Katherine Gagne admitted. “However, knowing what we know, we as a school board have a responsibility to act.”

READ MORE: Alberta Teachers’ Association won’t follow Ontario’s lead in calling for renaming of schools

Ash-Moccasin says Davin wasn’t a big topic of conversation while he attended the school, but now sees an opportunity to learn more about those whose stories were nearly lost to history.

“It’s good for the people that haven’t had a voice for a long, long, long time,” he said. “Right now is the time. There’s so much healing that needs to be done.”

Besides the name, there will be several more changes coming to the newly minted Crescents School.

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This includes;

  • The construction of a new plaque detailing the history of the school name, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations, and the actions taken by the School Division.
  • The creation of a document outlining the school’s history to be made available to students, staff, and visitors.
  • A permanent exhibit of artifacts of the Treaty 4 area and Regina Industrial School be assembled and made available to all Regina Public Schools through the Alex Youck Museum.

Still, the Davin School engraving on the front of the building will remain as a historical element, along with a long-standing plaque talking about Davin’s work in politics, journalism, and settlers rights.

“I think that there’s an educational piece that we want to explore in both manners,” Gagne added. “When we look at this, it’s a turning point. It changes history a bit, but it gives an opportunity to really and profoundly impact students on what the lasting impact of residential schools is.”

Some debate also remains when it comes to the selected name. The board says The Crescents School is reflective of the area, while several people in attendance disagreed, saying it only covers a portion of the school’s catchment area. Ash-Moccasin and another alumni, Florence Stratton, said they wished there was more community input on a new name.

For Trustee Cindy Anderson, all that mattered is it wasn’t named after another person, noting “there’s always skeletons in the closet.”

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It’s not the first time a Regina school has had to face such a decision. In 2014, Balfour Collegiate renamed and rebranded its team name from the ‘Redmen’ to the ‘Bears’ in 2014.

READ MORE: Balfour Collegiate in Regina changing school nickname

Back at The Crescents School, work on the changeover will begin this summer, setting the stage for a new school year, and a new beginning when students return to class.