The newest school in New Westminster is École Qayqayt Elementary School. Qayqayt refers to the Qayqayt First Nation, the only registered First Nation in Canada without a land base.
On February 23, 2016 the New Westminster School Board approved a policy to acknowledge the traditional territory of the Qayqayt First Nation, making this the typical first item on the agenda for School Board meetings:
The New Westminster School District recognizes and acknowledges the Qayqayt First Nation, as well as all Coast Salish peoples, on whose traditional and unceded territories we live, we learn, we play and we do our work.
That’s outstanding and commendable. It’s beyond time that we acknowledge that the lands we live and work and play on were not ceded to us by the First Nations people. It’s a time of newfound respect for those who lived and worked the land before Europeans initially settled our area.
So that’s why I really don’t like it when people shorten Qayqayt to QQ. Groups that should really know better, like the Qayqayt Parent Advisory Community, whose website is “qqpac.ca” and Twitter handle is @2QQPAC. Seriously, “qayqaytpac.ca” and “QayqaytPAC” are still available!
I’ve heard from one Qayqayt parent that they shorten it because Qayqayt is difficult to spell. Hey now, that’s a pile of hot mess. Take the five seconds to learn Q-A-Y-Q-A-Y-T. Seriously, it is the very least you could do.
It’s high time for everybody to show a little respect to the Qayqayt First Nation and stop shortening Qayqayt to QQ.
BC Education Minister Mike Bernier recently toured New Westminster Secondary School at the invitation of New Westminster MLA Judy Darcy. NWSS is scheduled to be replaced, and Darcy invited Bernier to show him the deplorable conditions in the school.
“NWSS is in bad shape,” Darcy said. “It’s really put New Westminster on the map, and we want to make sure that the new school reaches new heights in shoddiness to keep New Westminster in focus.”
NWSS principal Phil Cookson pointed out different areas of concern. “As you can see, we have droppings here,” he told Bernier near a crawl space under the Massey wing. “If we can get the Ministry to build the new school in such a way that we attract more rats to our school, we can turn NWSS into the ideal location to study hantavirus and other airborne diseases. Researchers from around the world will flock to NWSS, which will help inspire our children in the future.”
Cookson also highlighted the secondary benefits of the run-down school.
“Any time we have a leak in a pipe, we have to have a hazmat crew come in,” he said. “This helps keep high-paying jobs in the community, teaches our children about safety and disaster planning, and gives our children ideas about jobs in the future. We are also investigating internships with New Westminster Fire & Rescue Services and local water damage restoration and remediation companies.”
School board chair Jonina Campbell was cautiously optimistic.
“Getting the new high school has been a focus of the school board for a number of years. By upgrading NWSS’s dangerous and unteachable state, we hope to keep this issue in the community for years to come so we have something to talk about during the next election.”