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Tecumseh Public School
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Message from Director Costello re: Tecumseh Public School totem pole

April 24, 2018

​Dear parents/guardians, students and school community,

As you may be aware, there has been significant community dialogue about the totem pole that stands in the
front foyer of Tecumseh Public School. Recently, Lambton Kent District School Board (LKDSB) Senior
Administration decided to remove the totem pole. The totem pole will be removed during the summer
renovations in preparation for the consolidation of students from the John N. Given English Language Program
at Tecumseh Public School.

The totem pole was created by four Tecumseh Secondary School students as an extra-curricular activity and
has been located in the school for approximately 45 years. Based on LKDSB records and the reports by the
students who created it, this was not commissioned by the school, nor the former Kent County Board of

Although the totem pole has a longstanding history in the building, LKDSB Senior Administration, in
consultation with representatives from local and northwest coast Indigenous communities and the LKDSB
Indigenous Lead, have determined the totem pole is a symbol of cultural appropriation.

Totem poles are of cultural significance to Indigenous communities on Canada’s West Coast. They are
traditionally used to tell the stories of Indigenous families and important historical events. Additionally, totem
poles do not represent Tecumseh, a Shawnee from what is now known as Ohio, as noted by local Indigenous
community members.

In our role as educators, we see this as an opportunity for education and understanding of Indigenous histories
and traditions and to further the educational goals of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada:
Calls to Action. We feel it is important to engage in ongoing, critical conversations about the symbols and
artifacts that decorate our schools. As educators, we need to be leaders for our students and our learning
environments must be a reflection of our mission, vision and belief statements.

The LKDSB recognizes it has been wrong in the past. We have displayed a piece of artwork that does not
reflect our commitment to creating a safe, caring and inclusive learning environment for all. Moving forward, we
commit to doing better - we all play a role in supporting our Indigenous community partners and continuing the
ongoing work towards reconciliation.

We look forward to the consolidation of John N. Given Public School and Tecumseh Public School in
September 2018 and we are pleased the school community has decided to continue to honour Tecumseh its
name. We continue to work with our Indigenous partners to ensure that the redesigned front foyer incorporates
an appropriate and accurate celebration of Tecumseh’s legacy and the ‘Timberwolves’ mascot.

We appreciate your support as we move forward to ensure all LKDSB schools are safe, respectful and
inclusive learning environments for all students.

Jim Costello
Director of Education
Lambton Kent District School


Tecumseh Public School
287 McNaughton Ave W, Chatham, ON, N7L 1R8
Principal: Tracy VanDenBossche
Vice Principal: Kristin Murray
Bus Zone: 7, 8BUS STATUS

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