Whitehorse Daily Star

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VANIER NAME DROPPED – For the second time in its 49-year existence, a new name will adorn the front of Vanier Catholic Secondary School in Riverdale, it was announced Monday.

Secondary school to receive new name

Following incidents of sexual abuse by its namesake patron, Whitehorse’s Vanier Catholic Secondary School is being renamed – again.

By Whitehorse Star on June 22, 2022

Following incidents of sexual abuse by its namesake patron, Whitehorse’s Vanier Catholic Secondary School is being renamed – again.

“The Government of Yukon and the St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Secondary School Council are pleased to announce ‘St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Secondary School’ as the new name of the school previously known as Vanier Catholic Secondary School,” said a news release from the Yukon government issued Monday afternoon.

Vanier, of course, was a well-known and much-respected figure in the Catholic Church for many years. However, two years ago, it was revealed he sexually abused at least six women.

That has led to an international movement to remove his name and legacy from institutions and facilities such as schools.

The school was named for the Vanier family, according to a government spokesperson, rather than Jean Vanier himself.

According to the news release, “The school council, staff, student body, Diocese of Whitehorse and school community supported changing the school’s name and picked this name after accepting suggestions from students and families.

“The name ‘St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Secondary School’ was chosen because it encompasses the mission and values of the school community.

“The new name embodies the school’s focus on the Catholic faith, respect for the land, animals, natural resources, and social, economic and environmental justice.”

Education Minister Jeanie McLean added, “Yukon schools should reflect the needs and values of the communities they serve.

“I want to thank the St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Secondary School community for working together to find a name that fits their values as a school community.

“This new name will help instill strong connections for students and teachers to their faith and the Yukon’s natural and unique environment,” the minister said.

The St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Secondary School Council added, “We are pleased that with the approval of this name, we can start a new chapter in our school’s journey.

“The selection of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Secondary School embodies the values, ethics and culture of our Catholic school for every member of our community,” the council said.

Bishop Hector Vila of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Whitehorse said Francis of Assisi “gave up a life of prosperity, social standing, and self-interest, and instead found happiness in poverty, serving his neighbour, and devoting himself to God.

“It is my hope that students will be inspired by this humble young man,” Vila said.

This isn’t the first name change for the Duke Street school, which opened in 1973.

It was once named after George Allen Jeckell, an educator, civil servant and political figure in the Yukon.

He served as the territory’s comptroller from 1932 to 1946, and was accordingly the highest-ranked government official in the territory.

A number of years ago, however, historic writings were unearthed which suggested Jeckell held questionable views about Indigenous people which were deemed completely inappropriate for modern times. At that point, the school was renamed after Vanier.

Comments (36)

Up 4 Down 0

Anie on Jun 26, 2022 at 9:03 am

Yukoner - actually, yes, So long as we are funding some separate schools then we should fund all, so if the Muslim community decides to build a school, yes we should fund it. There is no hit to the taxpayer, the school gets the equivalent per student that would be expensed for public school. In my own opinion, all schools should be public. But that's not the way the majority want it to be.

Up 10 Down 0

drum on Jun 25, 2022 at 7:28 pm

Things are completelly out of hand.
First Nations Tradional Lands - does that mean they own the whole of the Yukon now under a Liberal regime?

Up 9 Down 2

North_of_60 on Jun 24, 2022 at 6:44 pm

The reference to "card carrying member of the Communist Party of Canada Pierre Elliott Trudeau" is a bit hyperbolic. Nonetheless, the well documented facts clearly show that PET was an avowed communist sympathizer who championed Marxism and communism as ideal governments and advocated for socialism as the path to his communist ideals.
CANADA - How The Communists Took Control by Alan Stang
April 1971

Up 11 Down 4

Yukoner on Jun 24, 2022 at 4:46 pm

@bonanzajoe It's called separation of church and state.. yes Catholic people pay taxes too, but so do Buddhists, Muslims, etc., and I'm sure you wouldn't get behind a Muslim school. And moral perspective from Catholics sounds a little rich.

Up 6 Down 3

Dan Davidson on Jun 24, 2022 at 3:34 pm

bonanzajoe: I can't find any support for your "card carrying member of the Communist Party of Canada Pierre Elliott Trudeau" claim. What's your reference? This seems unlikely for someone who "As a university student .... joined the Canadian Officers' Training Corps (COTC)" He did later begin "an (unfinished) dissertation ... on the topic of communism and Christianity"

Up 18 Down 2

Groucho d'North on Jun 24, 2022 at 9:58 am

I suspect if you dig deep enough and intrepret what you find as you want to, just about anybody has some history for others to take offence to. During the month of June I watched a number of excellent programs on Aboriginal history in Canada. One that stood out for me was a production on Cowichan Chief Tzouhalem, who had some nasty habits that would be considered violent and criminal today. There are no movements or campaigns to change the name of the mountain named for him as well as roads and some social groups in the region. As suggested below, stop using names of individuals for these buildings and be generic. Remember when there was a push a few years back from the Liberals to rename Mount Logan in honor of the senior Trudeau? Crisis averted.

Up 19 Down 12

Woodcutter on Jun 23, 2022 at 9:42 pm

I've always found it reprehensible that religious organizations operate educational facilities. They should be an outright ban on this practice as it breeds extremist and waste time on religious education. Like dude, i learned the bible in Sunday school, it's not that complex of a story, why you need waste 12 years of school to tell the same story over and over?

Why not spend the time on science, it's like magic but real.

Up 12 Down 0

Nell Fenwick on Jun 23, 2022 at 9:05 pm

The apostle of humility. That's setting the bar awfully high. I'm betting kids will shorten it to "Assisi" and make a pun out of it.

Up 10 Down 16

bonanzajoe on Jun 23, 2022 at 9:00 pm

@Yukoner. "no reason why public money should be funding religious schools." Why not, at least they have a moral perspective. And religious people pay taxes too.

Up 10 Down 13

bonanzajoe on Jun 23, 2022 at 8:57 pm

@Dan Davidson. What about the card carrying member of the Communist Party of Canada Pierre Elliott Trudeau who single handedly Communistized the Liberal Party of Canada. They even named an Airport after him.

Up 5 Down 3

bonanzajoe on Jun 23, 2022 at 8:51 pm

@Ted Parkinson on Jun 22. Then, there's always Jughead High.

Up 0 Down 4

bonanzajoe on Jun 23, 2022 at 8:49 pm

@We don’t need no education on Jun 22,". Your comment proves that you do.

Up 3 Down 9

Nathan Living on Jun 23, 2022 at 5:46 pm

I like the name 4S or Sandy Silver Secondary School.

Up 14 Down 5

Davis on Jun 23, 2022 at 5:33 pm

Seems crazy to me that we still have publicly funded religious schools!

Up 9 Down 3

You don't believe those women? on Jun 23, 2022 at 4:58 pm

It's hardly as if the accusations against Vanier were the first time a priest, lay brother, or other figures in the hierarchy of the Church were the first. Ugh - all over the world, in almost every diocese. @Pierre, I am Catholic and always will be, but I am ashamed that the Church I believed in could be so callous and downright evil when it came to these women and children.

Up 15 Down 5

Yukoner on Jun 23, 2022 at 4:55 pm

@Anie if it has very little to do with religion then just remove it. Creating streams for certain groups is a problem. We have long pandered too much to religions which often have caused just as much bad as good.

Tax dollars should not be spent on it, churches already get a great deal where they don't have to pay any.

Up 16 Down 13

Anie on Jun 23, 2022 at 3:45 pm

To those who question funding religion based schools - the per student funding is the equivalent of what the govt would have paid if that student was at a public school. So there is no additional cost. And let's be honest - for whatever reason people choose to send their kids to catholic schools, it has very little to do with religion. It's more likely convenient location or the unproven theory that religion based schools have better discipline or academic achievements. Way back in the dark ages when I went to catholic school, parents thought the discipline would be better for their unwieldy offspring who were expelled from public high schools - and as a result, our population of juvenile delinquents probably exceeded the norm.

Up 18 Down 5

Anie on Jun 23, 2022 at 3:37 pm

Wilf, you have accused the Premier of "looting senior Canada and old age pension". That's a pretty steep accomplishment for a Yukon Premier, or any provincial Premier. I think that you should tell us how you reached that conclusion.

Up 43 Down 13

Heathen Protestant on Jun 23, 2022 at 11:29 am

The better question arising from this is why are there publicly funded catholic schools in the Yukon or Canada for that matter? Public funding of religious institutions is a relic of a bygone era.

Up 29 Down 17

Wilf Carter on Jun 23, 2022 at 8:46 am

The name doesn't mean anything it is the system and people in it. Both of our kids went there and got a great education. I am sure our Premier who went to SFX will fix it like he fixed gas tax, creating inflation, looting senior Canada and old age pension, not developing any land for housing, not supporting Yukoners for Yukon jobs, no training for admin, accounting, financed jobs in public services, etc.

Up 15 Down 11

BigJay on Jun 23, 2022 at 8:29 am

Pierre: The allegations came out after Vanier died. The authorities do not pursue criminal cases against the deceased. So your comment does not make a whole lot of sense, you see?

Up 12 Down 4

Steven on Jun 23, 2022 at 7:44 am

Pierre - Now, I'm not Catholic at all however, even I understand the process one has to go through to become a Saint. It's not just an overnight thing: https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/library/process-of-beatification-and-canonization-13747

So, ok, Pierre, please start your investigation into St. Francis. Let us all know what you dig up. ~insert eye roll~ I'll get you started: https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=50

Up 17 Down 12

Good move on Jun 23, 2022 at 5:08 am

If the Catholic school system insists on naming schools after people, St Francis is a good choice. He's been dead for 800 years, so it's not likely any abuse of children or women will come to light. And @Pierre - 'cancel culture'? Really? Would you prefer that people just stay quiet, like they have done for generations?

Up 18 Down 19

We don’t need no education on Jun 22, 2022 at 10:41 pm

I am sick to my stomach thinking about what Frederick H Collins might have done. I heard “he” was a white dude in charge of overseeing the Residential School(s) in the Yukon as the federal representative for the Yukon…

Curious, that a school remains named after someone who authoritatively participated in the Residential School system’s cultural genocide of the First Peoples… Nice… But

Up 41 Down 10

Max Mack on Jun 22, 2022 at 9:46 pm

Jean Vanier has not had any opportunity to challenge the allegations of which he is accused in any court of law. His "guilt" was solely established by an "internal" review by L'Arche International, which was carried out by GCPS Consulting.

Against a backdrop of #MeToo, #BelieveAllWomen, widespread anti-Catholic hostility, an activist consulting group, and possibly even Vanier's adversaries within L'Arche and the RCC, was the internal review anything more than a kangaroo court with a pre-determined outcome?

To be clear, Vanier was not accused of rape. His "misconduct" seemed to stem from his role as spiritual advisor.
I am somewhat dismayed at how easily the media perpetuates serious and unproven claims as fact.

Up 19 Down 2

Rick S on Jun 22, 2022 at 8:42 pm

I've heard it sung in old bard tales this Francis of Assisi was a regular at dingy Italian brothels.

Up 9 Down 4

bonanzajoe on Jun 22, 2022 at 8:29 pm

@Ridiculous on Jun 22, Give it time, they'll come up with something.

Up 37 Down 15

Yukoner on Jun 22, 2022 at 8:21 pm

Time to lose the Catholic.. no reason why public money should be funding religious schools.

Up 13 Down 5

Dan Davidson on Jun 22, 2022 at 7:53 pm

to Pierre: The allegations were confirmed In February 2020, an internal report by L'Arche concluded that Vanier sexually abused six women in Trosly-Breuil, France, between 1970 and 2005.
You DO know who St. Francis was, yes?

Up 33 Down 3

Dan Davidson on Jun 22, 2022 at 7:45 pm

Prior to becoming Vanier, the school spent several years as Riverdale Junior-Secondary. Might have been wiser to just leave it that way.

Up 31 Down 1

Ted Parkinson on Jun 22, 2022 at 6:46 pm

Yes, "Riverdale High" with the patron saint: Archie Andrews!

Up 31 Down 4

Dominic Gibson on Jun 22, 2022 at 6:30 pm

I would be personally amazed if any of the school "council" know exactly what the "values, ethics and culture" of the Catholic Church actually are. They are certainly not something to be taken, or taken on, lightly, and they are not supposed to be seen and used as a sound-bite to be lived up to or, more than likely, have a blind eye turned to, as and when they become inconvenient, or too difficult to follow, because we'd much more prefer to be trendy, and, apparently, "woke"...a stupid term, for an even more dangerous way of looking at society.

Up 12 Down 13

Dan Davidson on Jun 22, 2022 at 6:19 pm

Pierre: Since the allegations were made by his namesake society we should probably take them seriously.

Up 67 Down 39

Pierre on Jun 22, 2022 at 4:18 pm

"Vanier, of course, was a well-known and much-respected figure in the Catholic Church for many years. However, two years ago, it was revealed he sexually abused at least six women"....Exactly where are these allegations in the criminal courts? Or is this another one of those "Cancel Culture" targets? Has anybody dug deep on this St. Francis fellow...will there be allegations down the road.. say in 20 years when they will have to rename it..perhaps St. Snowflake?

Up 74 Down 7

Ridiculous on Jun 22, 2022 at 4:02 pm

Can we just change it to Riverdale High School? Everything is getting so ridiculous. I’m sure this new namesake with also offend many in some way.

Up 115 Down 7

Seriously. on Jun 22, 2022 at 3:52 pm

Stop naming things after people. Whitehorse Catholic Secondary School should do just fine.

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