Ottawa school named after Julie Payette gets new name

An Ottawa school named after former governor general Julie Payette is getting a new name.

École élémentaire publique Julie-Payette in Kanata is being renamed école élémentaire publique Grande-Ourse, Ottawa’s French public school board announced Monday.

“This name is in line with the continuation of the mission of our school, which will continue to attach particular importance to science, technology, sports and the arts,” the Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario said in a news release in French.

The change will take effect as of the next school year.

Payette resigned as governor general in January 2021 after an independent workplace review found she had presided over a toxic work environment at Rideau Hall.

That summer, the school board voted to rename the school because the allegations against her could have a negative effect on the school’s reputation.

Two-third of parents and staff surveyed at the time were in favour of renaming the school.

The board then struck a working group to come up with a name, which included a survey of the school community earlier this year.

The Grande-Ourse name, which translates to the Big Dipper, fits the school well for several reasons, the board said.

According to some Indigenous peoples, the Big Dipper’s position in the sky marks the beginning of autumn. That’s also around the start time of the school year, the board said.

The school is also on unceded land of the Anishinaabe people, who are represented by the bear.

The school’s new logo will be unveiled in the coming months.

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