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Celebrating Christian holidays in Canadian Public Schools

Updated on November 12, 2013
Halloween celebrated at a Canadian Public School
Halloween celebrated at a Canadian Public School

We are Canadiasn. But we have one more identity that is respected and celebrated across Canada. And that is we are also a diverse nation. Canadians are white, black, brown and pale. Also, Canadians are Christian, Jews, Muslims, Natives, Hindus, atheists and people of other faiths. As far as we celebrate all the other Canadian holidays with each other and commemorate holidaying, non-Christians are also concerned to the level of mortification that their children are learning more about Halloween than Hanuka, more about Christmas that Eid and Diwali. This is because each and every christian event is celebrated in our public schools and that tend to take away the religious faith and beliefs of our children. Should the public schools be allowed to do that to our children?

Canadian School System

In Canada, we have two type of schools systems supported by the government. One is Catholic and the other is Public. There are other private schools too but in a very small number. Most of the Canadian children are enrolled in Public schools and only Christian Catholic children are allowed to attend the Catholic schools.

So my question is, if Canadian school system does give the leverage to Christians by way of Catholic schooling system, they why is there a need felt to get children, who attend public schools, accustomed to christian holidays going to public schools? Is there a specific reason or agenda? I hope not because then it would give rise to a controversy. But we should question what's going on and why is this going on?

What does the policy say?

The Board of Trustees’ Executive Limitations Policy EL-6: Instructional Programming says:

  • The Chief Superintendent shall not fail to ensure that the district’s instructional program achieves the Board’s Ends policies for individual student learning.

Accordingly, the Chief Superintendent shall not fail to:

  • Assure that no program emphasizes a particular religion, notwithstanding the School Act definition of alternative programs.
  • The Calgary Board of Education accepts children of all faiths and creeds, and it must show understanding and respect for differences arising from differences in faith, while encouraging inquiry and discussion in the continuing search for truth, which is the hallmark of a growing, rational being.

The Calgary Board of Education endorses teaching students about religion not the teaching of religion (Source: http://cbe.ab.ca/policies/policies/ar3067.pdf)

Easter celebrated at a Public School
Easter celebrated at a Public School
Christmas celebrated
Christmas celebrated

Should Christian holidays be celebrated at Public schools in Canada?

See results

How public schools are not following policy?

By not talking about other religious holidays and celebration, the Public Schools are violating the essence of diversity and their ``on-paper`` policy. I have an eight year old. She knows about all the holidays and she is burdened and pressured in her school to follow the footsteps of her peers as the whole school is celebrating the occasion. Not only this, but we are also burdened by the cost of celebrating the events and occasions. I don't have a problem with Remembrance Day, or Canada Day or Family Day. But, I do have a problem with Christmas choir (my daughter was made to take part in it last year) and Halloween costumes and Easter Eggs.Not that I am against them, certainly no. But I am against the idea that every child enrolled in school has to take part in it. I once objected but was silenced in the name of diversity. If this is diversity, then why don't celebrate Diwali (Hindu occasion) or Eid (Muslim occasion) or Chinese New Year.

My child does not know about her faith related events, but she knows about Good Friday and why it is celebrated. Are we following the policy here or to begin with diversity?

Is there a solution?

I sent my kid back home last year. My main motivation was for her to attend some of her festivities of her faith and understand their importance. When she came back and started going to school, she talked about her trip and festivities she attended to her classmates. She was then tagged as weird and different. In words of one of her classmates, ``You have a different God``.

Seriously, this is how she was perceived. And this making a laugh out of diversity.

So, my answer is a big No. There is no solution, until and unless Public schools themselves tries to adhere to their policy. I understand that most of the teaching staff at Public schools are of Christian faith. But that should not be the cause of this trend, not now and not ever.

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