Board of Education Announces Spelling Adjustment for the Cowichan Secondary School Replacement
At the Open Board Meeting on Tuesday, March 7th, the Board of Education for the Cowichan Valley School District unanimously voted to adjust the spelling of the name ‘Cowichan’ in relation to the replacement Cowichan Secondary School. The new school will now be known as Quw’utsun Secondary School.
The current spelling of Cowichan is an anglicized version of the Hul’q’umi’num’ name of Quw’utsun, the nation whose territory this new school is built on.
This spelling adjustment comes after consultation with the Cowichan Tribes Vision Committee who provided important feedback to this project. The Vision Committee consisted of Cowichan Sul’hween (elders), District Indigenous Education staff, Indigenous students, and senior District staff. They provided the recommendation to the Board on the new school build and on the potential naming adjustment. This spelling adjustment reflects the Board’s commitment to reconciliation with the First Nations’ communities it serves.
“The Board is grateful for the knowledge and teachings passed on to us from the Cowichan Tribes Vision Committee. Each member of the Board had strong support for this spelling adjustment and we are grateful that our next school will so accurately reflect our commitment to our First Nations’ students and partners,” said Cathy Schmidt, Chair of the Board of Education for the Cowichan School District.
The Board does recognize that the current Cowichan Secondary School has been an anchor in the Cowichan Valley for over 70-years. This school has seen generations of Cowichan Valley residents walk through its doors and has provided a stable, and familiar place for families. ‘Cow High’ has been a foundational place, in both structure and community, and there is deep family association with both the physical place, and the concept of Cowichan Secondary.
However, the 70-year-old Cowichan Secondary School represents another side to many in the community. Cowichan Secondary was built at a time when, across the country, the educational system was used to destroy Indigenous knowledge and culture rather than empower it as is done today. This multi-generational trauma is still very relevant to many in communities across Canada. A spelling correction for the new Quw’utsun Secondary stands to help the community heal through the collective journey towards reconciliation.
Adjusting the spelling of the new school name to Quw’utsun Secondary School does not affect the school logo or colours that the community has come to know and support.
Construction on Quw’utsun Secondary School is well underway and the project recently saw an important milestone with January marking one year on site for construction. The project is currently on track for completion in Spring of 2024.