Skip to main content

One of Calgary's largest schools officially renamed to honour Indigenous history


A high school bearing the name of a residential school architect received a new name in a ceremony Thursday. 

The southwest Calgary school previously known as Bishop Grandin High School is now officially Our Lady of The Rockies High School. 

It received the honour during a ceremony that included student presentations and traditional Indigenous music and dancing. 

Trustees with the Calgary Catholic School District unanimously decided to rename Bishop Grandin last year. 

It was under pressure to remove the title after the 2021 discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves near residential school sites in B.C. and Saskatchewan.

At the time, the school -- which is located in the neighbourhood of Haysboro -- was named after Bishop Vital-Justin Grandin, who played a significant role in the creation of the residential school system in the 19th century.

Current and former students say the new name better reflects the institution. 

"I love it," 2018 graduate Cherokee Eagletail said. "It's beautiful and wonderful and grounding. It's more about respecting the mountains and the land that belongs to Treaty 7."

Our Lady of the Rockies is a shrine that encourages devotion to Mary, the mother of god, and helps Catholics become closer to their faith. It can also, in a more literal sense, represent the mountains and connection to land. 

All told, the moniker symbolizes the ability to listen and collaborate -- something officials say was key when choosing the new title. 

"It's exciting to be one of the first graduates to represent the school under this new name," grade 12 student Kloe Salvador said. "The spread of awareness is great and being able to adapt from one name to another is amazing."

Alberta has a troubling history with the residential school system, with the highest number of facilities amongst Canada's provinces and territories.

The boarding schools began operating in the late 1890s, with the last closing in the in late 1990s. 

They were designed to assimilate Canada's Indigenous children by separating them from their families, making them Catholic and stopping them from speaking their first languages.

A 2021 board-commissioned survey of stakeholders found 79 per cent supported a school name change. Five titles were suggested by the committee and the new name was selected from the list.

The school is of the largest in Calgary, serving more than 1,400 students. It opened in 1967. Top Stories

Stay Connected