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Petition started to stop school board renaming Chippewa

'A select few want to change the name, unbelievable but true'

It's one of the hottest and most controversial issues in the city...the Near North School Board's decision to rename the much-loved Chippewa Secondary School.

That decision sparked an online petition today to try and stop the action.

"This high school named Chippewa High School is a well-known school. Many people of all cultures have attended this school for decades. It's on Chippewa street and Chippewa creek goes alongside it," writes petition organizer Stephen Brown of North Bay.

See the petition here.

The petition went up at 10 this morning and by noon had been signed by seven people.

"A select few want to change the name, unbelievable but true," adds Brown. "If we petition, we can stop this name change. Many small groups are making big changes because we don't petition to stop things like this from happening. We have a  small window to submit a petition this month and stop the name change. Please share and sign.

"Let's keep Chippewa High School's name."

The Board's action has proven to be highly unpopular.

In a BayToday poll published in December 2,456 votes were cast and an overwhelming 86.15 per cent voted to keep the present name.

See: Should Chippewa Secondary School be renamed

Despite public opinion, the effort by the Board to rename has gained momentum. On April 12 the committee will shortlist five names and will put them out for feedback in another survey, which will be open from April 13-20

See: Got an idea to rename Chippewa school?

"This input will help the committee to select a name that emphasizes positive relationships with all members of the education community and fosters an engaged and inclusive school climate," said a news release from the school board.

See: 'Unacceptable' Chippewa Raiders name must go — school board

The decision has created outrage in the community, leading to today's petition.

See  What has changed to bring about Chippewa renaming?

And: Chippewa name change an effort to be politically correct

Last week a prominent leader of the Nipissing First Nation came out in support of keeping the Chippewa name.

George Couchie, an Indigenous leader who speaks about cultural awareness around the region believes the Chippewa name does not need to be removed.

Couchie is a member of the Red-tailed Hawk Clan and has served this community and those in the surrounding areas for over 30 years as a police officer, and in retirement, he’s continued his passion for helping people by creating a company called Redtail Hawk Training and Consulting, with the focus of teaching a cultural awareness about Indigenous people.

Couchie believes the Near North Board is falling behind the other local School Boards. 

"Scollard has been doing all this work, working with Indigenous people. Their programs are all so solid but when it comes to the public board now they are thinking they have to do something and they have jumped to the conclusion before they even went to Nipissing First Nation whose traditional territory was North Bay many years ago.

"And really, have they asked them? Have they engaged in anything? But they haven't as far as I know." 

"Let's recycle whatever they saw as negative and make a positive out of it. Keep the school's name Chippewa. When we are talking about Truth and Reconciliation so how do we come up with a different name that represents the city, the culture of Indigenous people so it becomes a positive thing and is not a negative." 

On the petition Peter Murray from North Bay wrote, "I am a Chippewa Scarlet Raider from 1958. School inception. School was named after the street. Chippewa Street. At the end was Chippewa Barracks. Other end was Chippewa creek. Nothing to do with being offensive or derogatory. Once a Raider, always a Raider !"

Jocelyn Picard added, "Chippewa is an honourable name and historical name.... and I think the school board is completely out of bounds on this."

With files from Chris Dawson.

Jeff Turl

About the Author: Jeff Turl

Jeff is a veteran of the news biz. He's spent a lengthy career in TV, radio, print and online, covering both news and sports. He enjoys free time riding motorcycles and spoiling grandchildren.
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