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News: Wednesday, October 6th, 2021

Board Approves Name for New School on Eagle Mountain

At its September 21st meeting last week, the Abbotsford Board of Education approved a motion to name the new school under construction on Eagle Mountain. The Board was unanimous in the decision to approve the name "Irene Kelleher Totí:ltawtxw", with the amendment of incorporating the Halq'eméylem term "Totí:ltawtxw" (house of learning) into the official title.

"As a Board, we're delighted to provide a worthy name for our new school to acknowledge the contributions and educational service of Irene Kelleher," said Dr. Stan Petersen, Chair for the Abbotsford Board of Education.

The Naming Committee - comprised of Trustee, staff, community, and student representation - brought three options forward to the Board for consideration. After compiling the near 800 submissions received during the spring consultation period, the top three names presented included: Sp'oq'es Heights Elementary, Irene Kelleher Elementary and Kathleen Cooper Elementary.

"We received an overwhelming response from the community, and our committee took the time to have really thoughtful discussions when considering each submission," said Trustee Rhonda Pauls, who served as Chair on the Naming Committee. "The committee was passionate about ensuring a direct connection to education, and a local contribution to the community and that we get to live, learn and work on, which was evident in the names presented to the Board for final consideration."

As noted in a detailed nomination package, Irene Kelleher was a strong contributor to public education in British Columbia and a respected community leader worthy of recognition. As the first known person of Indigenous heritage to receive a BC Teacher Certification, Ms. Kelleher taught for several years in the interior before securing a teaching assignment back in her home community of Abbotsford in 1939. She eventually retired as principal of Abbotsford Elementary School in 1964.

Throughout October, the district will research Irene Kelleher’s legacy and consult with its Indigenous stakeholders to ensure “Totí:ltawtxw” is appropriately reflected in the new school’s marketing and branding. An update on these pieces will be brought back to the Board of Education at the November 2nd Board Meeting.

The new elementary school in Abbotsford is scheduled to open at the start of the school year in September 2022.

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Kayla Stuckart, Manager of Communications
Phone: (604) 859 – 4891 ext. 1206