Memorialization at Sir Winston Churchill
April 30, 2021
Dear Sir Winston Churchill Families,
As you may have heard in the media and on social media, there are conversations taking place between staff and Ms. Shari-Ann Selvey related to the temporary memorials at our school for her son, Devan Selvey.
Let me first say that Devan will always be remembered. Devan’s death is a tragedy, and we acknowledge the grief and pain that our community continues to feel.
We are respecting this time to work with Ms. Selvey on how best to memorialize her son. How we remember Devan will be in consultation with Devan’s family while ensuring that our school remains a safe and inviting place for current and future students. Ms. Selvey and the Board are in agreement that whatever is decided will be done in a way that fosters a sense of safety and care towards one another.
Our school board has guiding principles about memorialization. These guidelines are not intended to stop memorialization from occurring but to set parameters around the use of the school. The position, supported by the mental health community, is that school buildings are not optional sites for young people. Schools are places where students must attend and viewing the site daily could cause some discomfort impacting students on their school experience.
Staff at the school care deeply about our students. We also care about how we honour Devan’s memory, beyond the significant changes that will come from the Safe Schools: Bullying Prevention and Intervention Review. It is important that we listen to the community, our students, as well as from Devan’s family and friends. Once the plan is finalized, we will share a communication with the school community.
Conversations related to this topic are very difficult and supports are available for students. If you have concerns about your child, please speak with your child’s teacher or contact COAST Hamilton Crisis Line (www.coasthamilton.ca or 905-972-8338) or Kids Help Phone (www.kidshelpphone.ca or 1-800-668-6868). Also, students can reach out using the HWDSB Helps app for iOS and Android – Text to 905-963-0066, or using the Web chat (www.hwdsb.on.ca/hwdsbhelps). In case of emergency, call 911.
This is an emotionally driven topic, and one where we need to respect everyone’s perspectives and opinions. Thank you for offering kindness and compassion to one another as we work through a solution that is in the best interest of our students, staff, and supported by the Selvey family.