Regina Catholic School Division Commits to Renaming Jean Vanier School
By Jonathan Guignard
March 4, 2020
The Regina Catholic School Division is moving forward with changing the name of Jean Vanier School, after sexual abuse allegations against its namesake surfaced last month.
The decision was made at their board meeting on Tuesday night.
“It’s important to rename the school so the school isn’t painted with the same brush that came from the reports of sexual abuse,” said Twylla West, Regina Catholic School Division spokesperson.
“Our prayers remain with the victims and all victims of sexual abuse.”
According to a report released by L’Arche International on Feb. 22, there was enough evidence to show that Vanier engaged in “manipulative sexual relationships” over a period from 1970 to 2005, usually with a “psychological hold” over six alleged victims.
Vanier, who died at the age of 90 last year, was the founder of L’Arche, an organization providing a community to those living with intellectual disabilities.
The report indicated that none of his alleged victims was disabled.
“It’s become apparent it is important to rename the school for the sake of the community,” West said.
“It’s also very important to the board that the good work that Jean Vanier did is remembered and not forgotten.”
The school isn’t the only organization in the province grappling with Vanier’s fractured legacy.
The L’Arche community in Saskatoon is also struggling to reconcile the good with the bad.
“What do we do with Jean Vanier’s books? What do we do with pictures on the wall? Do we take them down?” said Wyndham Thiessen, L’Arche Saskatoon’s executive director.
“Jean Vanier, although he is a huge part of our story, he is not L’Arche. He is a huge part of the story of how we came to be, but L’Arche communities remain and are beautiful places where people have really important and meaningful relationships.
“All of that good will continue.”
West said she is unsure how long it will take to change the name of Jean Vanier School, but believes it is still several months away.
A list of stakeholders are invited to submit name proposals for the school. Stakeholders include Pastors of the Archdiocese, parents, students, staff and trustees.
”There is a long process of consultation. We have to reach out archbishop as to the suitability of all the names that are suggested,” West said.
The division’s administration suggest all elementary schools are named after a Catholic saint.