Brampton school officially gets new Indigenous name of Nibi Emosaawdang Public School


Published April 14, 2022 at 2:14 pm

Josephine Mandamin was a founding Nibi Emosaawdang or "Water Walker"

A Brampton school has a new Indigenous name honouring water-rights activists and protectors of the Great Lakes.

Formerly named after Canada’s first Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald, the school now bears the new name of Nibi Emosaawdang Public School.

Nibi Emosaawdang is an Ojibwe Nation phrase meaning “Water Walker” and honours late Anishinaabe First Nations grandmother Josephine Mandamin, an elder and founding member of the water protectors.

A residential school survivor and water-rights activist, Mandamin was known as “Grandmother Water Walker.”

The school was given its new name at a ceremony on Thursday, and the Peel District School Board says the new name “evokes and inspires environmental activism with strong female community leaders at the forefront.”

“There is no stronger message than what Nibi Emosaawdang teaches us — the importance of protecting our planet for all future generations,” said Rashmi Swarup, Peel District School Board Director of Education.

Mandamin walked some 40,000 kilometres around the shorelines of all the Great Lakes and other waterways of North America carrying a bucket of water to bring awareness to the need to protect the waters from pollution.

The name is meant to represent all Water Walkers and was chosen after consultations with Indigenous communities and parents and students currently associated with the school, according to a report from the board.

Removing the name of Canada’s first Prime Minister from the school came after increased pressure on the board to eliminate connections to the country’s colonial past, including residential schools where Indigenous children were indoctrinated with European and Christian values.

“Nibi Emosaawdang Public School also centres the themes of reconciliation, equity and social justice, which aligns with Peel District School Board’s commitments to anti-colonialism, anti-racism, anti-oppression,” the board said in a statement.

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