Fort St. John's new school to be named after first nurse Anne Roberts Young

Fort St. John's new elementary school has a name. 

School trustees have chosen to name the school after Anne Roberts Young, the first registered nurse in the North Peace. Young's name was chosen to grace the new school after she topped the list of suggestions during public consulations last fall, and fits the district's naming protocols, officials said Monday.

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"It recognizes contributions of women to the history of the community and is locationally appropriate given the school's proximity to the hospital," said incoming superintendent Stephen Petrucci. 

At the same, trustees have chosen to incorporate indigenous language elements to the names of existing schools, and in future school name selections.

The district will add signage to the outside of North Peace Secondary and Upper Pine schools to read dane jejehde, which means place of learning in the Beaver language. 

"We're starting with those two schools, and we'll be continuing to have that conversation around other district locations being recognized with the Beaver language," Petrucci said.

The city's two new elementary schools have been named after pioneering women.

Margaret 'Ma' Murray Community School, opened in 2018, was named after the pioneer newspaper publisher and Order of Canada appointee who started the Alaska Highway News in Fort St. John in 1944.

Young arrived from England in 1930 to work at the Grandhaven Red Cross Outpost Hospital. At the time, Fort St. John wasn't even a village.

Young married farmer and postmaster Jim Young of Rose Prairie, and continued working as a nurse after her move to that community. She often travelled by horseback and through severe weather to see patients. She delivered more than 300 babies during her 25-year career in the region.

At a groundbreaking ceremony last year, Education Minister Rob Fleming said school district made a good business case for the new school, but joked the best case was made by Northern Health and the city's maternity ward. In announcing the school, the province recognized the school district as one of the fastest growing in B.C., with more than 600 births per year at the Fort St. John Hospital. 

northeastelementaryschool-fortstjohn
Artist rendering of the new Anne Roberts Young elementary school in Fort St. John. Architects are still working on the colour scheme for the building, and this is a rendering only. - KMBR Architects

The new school will have seats for 505 students, and include a neighbourhood learning centre, a daycare, and multi-purpose spaces for community use. Construction began in 2018, and is planned to be complete and ready for students in fall 2020.

The district expects to pour the last of the foundation walls this week, and to see the precast wall structures for the gym and daycare area to arrive in the next two weeks. Steel is expected to arrive shortly after that, said Doug Boyd, assistant superintendent in charge of the build.

"We're trying to do it in phases so we will do a wall section and then try to get the roof on that section so that as we're progressing we're getting in preparation for winter," Boyd said.

The district continues to secure partnerships for three projects tied the school's construction, including the expansion of the gym, a music and multi-purpose room, and a daycare.

The next two schools likely to need a name are a new middle school that will be built next to Ma Murray along the West Bypass, and a replacement school for Charlie Lake. The schools are the district's top two shortlisted priorities for ministry funding.

Charlie Lake is named after the local Dane-zaa leader Charlie Yahey. It is also home to the Charlie Lake Cave (Tse’KWa), where an indigenous cultural musuem is planned.

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.

northeastelementaryschool-fortstjohn
Artist rendering of the new Anne Roberts Young elementary school in Fort St. John. Architects are still working on the colour scheme for the building, and this is a rendering only. - KMBR Architects
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