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Officials name new Coquitlam school to honour Coast Salish people

Officials pick new name out of dozens submitted for Sheffield Elementary on Burke Mountain but decide against a First Nations language name
Coast Salish Elementary is the new name of the school being built on a six acre site at 3538 Sheffield Ave. in Coquitlam.

Coquitlam’s newest school will be named for local First Nations.

But it won’t have an Indigenous name.

Tuesday, the board of education chose the name Coast Salish Elementary School for a school under construction on Burke Mountain. 

School District 43 board chair Kerri Palmer Isaak said the name was chosen to reflect local First Nations and was selected to be inclusive of the different Indigenous peoples who call the Tri-Cities home.

Previously called Sheffield Elementary, the school is being built on a six-acre site at 3538 Sheffield Ave. with $47.3 million in funding from the province and $5 million from SD43.

It will provide 430 student spaces in the fast-growing Burke Mountain neighbourhood. 

Palmer Isaak said several names were suggested and a naming committee selected three.

The one chosen by the board was carefully considered to be inclusive, she said, to be distinct from other schools in the district, and also to recognize the importance of the Coast Salish people.

“It [the new school name] was more inclusive of different bands, rather than one specific band,” Palmer Isaak explained.

As many as 70 suggestions were provided to the district from a call out to students, staff, parents and community members. 

The selection committee was made up of partner representatives, including teachers, and parents, a district leadership team member, the assistant director of community relations and the principal of facilities Initiatives. 

No Indigenous words were on the final list of three finalists, which also included Sheffield Elementary and Creekside Elementary.

Some school districts, however, are using First Nations language to name local schools.

In New Westminster, for example, some schools are being given names using the local halq’eméylem language.

For example, Richard McBride Elementary was recently renamed Skwo:wech Elementary School; Skwo:wech is the halq’eméylem word for “sturgeon."

Palmer Isaak said there are no plans to rename any SD43 schools, “but we’re always open to feedback,” she said.

Like SD43, New Westminster has a school naming policy but it was recently updated to encourage place-based names, including names to acknowledges and honour Indigenous history. The committee includes two Indigenous members.

Among the names suggested for Coquitlam’s new school were:

  • Bear of Burke Mountain Elementary School
  • Burke Mountain Elementary School 
  • Burke Mountain Creek Elementary School 
  • Burke Mountain Eagle Elementary School
  • Burke Mountain Heights Elementary School
  • Coast Salish Elementary School 
  • Creekside Elementary School 
  • Dream Elementary School 
  • Eleanor Collins Elementary School 
  • Eleanor Ward Elementary School 
  • Epic Elementary School 
  • Highlands Elementary School 
  • Hun’tseluw Elementary School
  • Hwiw’tsust Elementary School 
  • Katzie Elementary School 
  • Kwikwetlem Elementary School 
  • Partington Creek Elementary School 
  • Pinecone Elementary School 
  • Pinecone Burke Elementary School 
  • Pinecone Side Elementary School 
  • Red Raccoon Elementary School 
  • Red Fish River Elementary School 
  • Sheffield Elementary School 
  • Sheffield Avenue Elementary School
  • Sheffield Heights Elementary School 
  • Sheffield Mountain Elementary School 
  • Shining Light Elementary School 
  • Shkwulhkwulh Elementary School
  • Shxwulmástun Elementary School
  • Smámelet Elementary School 
  • Smile and Shine Elementary School 
  • Spirit Elementary School 
  • Sunrise Elementary School 
  • Ted Kay Elementary School 
  • Trailhead Elementary School