Sharon Farcy stands in front of Liidlii Kue Elementary School, formerly known as Bompas Elementary School. When the Dehcho Divisional Education Council was looking for a new name for the school, Farcy’s submission was chosen. photo courtesy of Bernice Hardisty-Isaiah

Fort Simpson children and youth are back at school this fall but something’s a bit different from previous years – the schools have new names.

Liidlii Kue Elementary School and Liidlii Kue Regional High School – bearing Fort Simpson’s traditional name, which means “place where two rivers meet” – have replaced the names Bompas Elementary School and Thomas Simpson Secondary School.

Close to 50 people attended a celebration of the new names on September 25. Stew and bannock was served.

“The idea came form an elder who had written a letter back in 2017,” said Bernice Hardisty-Isaiah, chair of the Dehcho Divisional Education Council.

“Just to get away from the history of the residential school and to move on.”

Originally called Bompas Hall, the elementary school had once been Fort Simpson’s residential school. It was named for Anglican bishop William Carpenter Bompas. The secondary school had been previously named after Arctic explorer Thomas Simpson.

“The youth who attend this school, it’s different for them this century. It’s a new beginning for them,” said Hardisty-Isaiah, adding the board wants the youth to view the school system as something that can now help them build brighter, positive futures for themselves.

The selection process for the new names drew in submissions from throughout the community in 2017.

Some suggested names were of past leaders and educators, including Paul Stipdonk Elementary School, Minnie Letcher Elementary School, Chief Joseph Norwegian School and Deh Cho School.

“He was there for the students, connected the youth with soccer. Many of the other ones had been there for the youth,” said Hardisty-Isaiah.

The names that stuck, invoking the community’s connection with its environment and its traditional language, had been suggested by Sharon Farcy.

“You know, it’s something that the community had wanted and the members had wanted, especially with the elders stepping up and saying, ‘I think it’s time for this.'”

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