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Petition launched to save Burnaby North Secondary School Viking

Students concerned about the loss of the giant metal and concrete Viking mascot when the new school is complete have started a petition to preserve it, but school officials say no decision has yet been made about its fate.

As the completion of the new Burnaby North Secondary School draws ever closer, renewed fears about the fate of a 16-foot steel and concrete Viking head that has stood guard outside the old school for nearly three decades has sparked a petition to save the mascot.

“Preserving this cherished symbol is not only an act of respect for tradition but also a way to honor the collective memories and experiences shared by countless individuals throughout the school’s history,” states the petition.

Keerthi Herath, an ex-Burnaby North parent, contacted the NOW to say there seems to be “a renewed conversation and apprehension among the kids regarding the potential removal of the mascot.”

Herath said the mascot is “beloved" and should be preserved for future generations.

“As our educational institutions continually strive to foster inclusivity and diversity, it is crucial to recognize that mascots, when embraced positively, can serve as unifying symbols that transcend individual backgrounds and foster a sense of belonging among students,” Herath said. “The Viking mascot has achieved precisely that at Burnaby North Secondary, creating an environment where students from all walks of life can unite under a shared identity.”

But fears about the loss of the Viking are still premature, according to the school district, as no decision has yet been made about its fate.

“We understand and appreciate that there are strong feelings about the Viking head, Burnaby North principal Curtis Hodgson said in an emailed statement. “Any decision about what the future holds would take time. Our focus is on student learning and completion of the new building.”

Former principal Dave Rawnsley told the NOW the future of the Viking was the “most contentious” issue during the planning of the $108-million Burnaby North replacement project with “strong opinions” on both sides.

An eight-year project started by now-retired shop teacher John Clarke to challenge his welding students, the Viking has been a polarizing figure since it was unveiled on June 1994.

Within days, one NOW reader called it “ugly” while another described it as a “magnificent artwork.”

For Herath, the mascot’s looks aren’t the point.

“I have personally witnessed the immense joy and camaraderie that the Viking symbol brings to the school community,” Herath said.

📣 SOUND OFF: What would you like school officials to do with the Burnaby North Secondary Viking? Send us a letter.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor
Email cnaylor@burnabynow.com