‘The act of being kind’: South Edmonton school receives new Cree name

The Edmonton Public Schools’ Board of Trustees has voted on a new name for Dan Knott School. Starting in September, it will be known as kisêwâtisiwin School.

kisêwâtisiwin, which is pronounced ki se wât si win, is a Cree word that can be translated to English as the act of being kind.

“We are proud to share this step forward in reconciliation through the renaming of Dan Knott School,” said Edmonton Public Schools’ Board Chair Trisha Estabrooks in a written release. “The school’s long standing motto has been Do Nice, Be Kind, which aligns with the true meaning of kisêwâtisiwin.”

Dan Knott was a former Edmonton mayor with ties to the Ku Klux Klan.

The decision to rename the school was made in 2020 after an Indigenous student collected more than 7,000 signatures to have the name changed.

The new name was chosen in consultation with an Indigenous naming committee and community engagement sessions.

“So many were engaged and consulted on finding the right name for this vibrant and diverse school community. As part of our commitment to anti-racism and equity, this name honours the Indigenous peoples who inhabited this land before us,” said Estabrooks.

The board also agreed to change the name of Oliver School, named for Frank Oliver, an Edmonton MP who pushed forward policy that permitted the expropriation of Indigenous land, affecting reserves across Canada. He also oversaw the creation of residential schools as Indian Affairs Minister.

A new name for Oliver School has not yet been announced.  

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