Following extensive community collaboration and direction, the Board of Education approved wâhkôhtowin as the new name for Confederation Park Community School at its meeting on June 16.
Through a traditional naming ceremony that followed appropriate Cree culture protocol, wâhkôhtowin (pronounced Wah-KOH-toh-win) was chosen. The word is a Nêhiyaw (Cree) word that means "relations/relationships/being related". The word is often used to describe kinship.
"The word wâhkôhtowin in the Cree language has multiple meanings and ways of understanding," said Confederation Park Principal Pete Chief. "This reflects the work we do, not only in our division with our strategic plan, but most importantly the everyday work we do at Confederation Park School."
Confederation Park is the home of the school division's Nêhiyâwiwin Cree Language and Culture Program. When the program celebrated its 10th anniversary in the spring of 2016, the initial conversation about renaming the school began. From there, the school assembled elders to guide the process, who advised that traditional Cree protocols be followed due to the importance of the name change.
According to the elders and knowledge keepers that conducted the naming ceremony, the new name can be used to describe how all school community members are related and connected through their participation in the daily life of school. The new name invites students, staff, and parents be a part of the school learning community that is defined by the importance of relationships. Following the naming ceremony, the proposed name came to the board for adoption.
"Our board is proud to approve this name change, which is a wonderful example of one of our schools being responsive to its community," said Board Chair Colleen MacPherson. "wâhkôhtowin captures what we want our schools to be for our students and families – a place where relationship comes first."
The new name, wâhkôhtowin School, will be in place in September for the start of the next academic year. Due to gathering restrictions, a celebration cannot be held with the school community at this time but is expected to be planned sometime in the new school year.