Abbotsford’s Upper Sumas Elementary and Matsqui Elementary School will be renamed to reflect their historical roots in the Halq’eméylem language of the Stó:lō First Nations.
The Abbotsford board of education voted Tuesday (Dec. 7) 6-1 in favour of renaming Upper Sumas to Semá:th and Matsqui to Mathxwi in the school names.
Korky Neufeld was the lone trustee to vote against the proposed name change. He pointed to the 100-year history of Sumas Prairie families calling it Upper Sumas and questioned why the ‘Upper’ part was being removed.
The idea came about from a closed board meeting on Nov. 2 as a way to reflect the historical roots of local First Nations. Representatives from both Sumas and Matsqui First Nations were then advised of the decision on Nov. 29.
The new names will come into effect on July 1, 2022.
The board also made changes to the manner in which they name and rename school facilities.
They removed previous criteria stating that facility names would be based on notable Canadian and international figures (eg. humanitarians, historians, government leaders, people involved in such fields as sports, sciences or the arts). The new criteria now simply states that the board approves facility names based on people or places important to the local community or geographic area in which the facility is located.
The new criteria also removed a previous policy that stated that the board may consider a specific naming recognition for part of a facility created by a significant donation to the facility’s cost.
The board also stated that an Indigenous representative must be a part of every naming committee moving forward. Previously there was no Indigenous representation.
Meanwhile, Abbotsford Traditional Middle and Abbotsford Traditional Secondary schools announced that they intend to rename as Abbotsford Traditional School.
This was a request from the school, along with parents and staff. The crest will be modified and the school community believes this will lead to the school being viewed as one school and not two separate entities.
They will also be removing the Middle School Sabres mascot and all sports teams will adopt the Titans moniker.
The proposal will go to a board vote at the next meeting on Jan. 18.