Immigration, Assimilation, Ethnicity and All That Jazz

Quebec Schools Required to Mark Non-Christian Holidays

Posted by chinesecanuck on September 2, 2008

And this goes for private schools too, according to the Globe and Mail.  I’m a little confused about the article.  Do the students have to take these days off?  I hope not, as won’t be that many days left for instruction!  And why is it an issue to teach other religions in a (say) Catholic school?  I went to an Anglican school with chapel, and sat through presentations on Islam and Judaism.  It’s great to get some exposure to other cultures.  However, at the same time, I worry that teachers aren’t trained properly enough to teach other religions/cultures.  Those not properly trained will make people of non-majority cultures feel more “other” than they already are.  This is especially the case for non-majority cultures who are assimilated.  People, even those who know you quite well, will start assuming that your culture is one way and will avoid doing some things around you because of what they were taught.  Take, for example, baby showers.  This is not done in many cultures (including Chinese culture) because of all the risks associated with childbirth.  But someone born and raised in North America may want one.  Heck, even immigrant women may want one!  Apparently, my mom’s work friends threw her a baby shower before I was born.  However, that was 1979, before all those sensitivity seminars were brought into the workplace.  I highly doubt that something like that would be done today, even outside work hours.  People are trained to believe that some cultures just don’t find them appropriate and may even be insulted.  Even the article has mentioned something that could be considered a faux pas in my book.  The curriculum mentions that “while most Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving, Jews mark the autumn harvest with Sukkot.”  I know Jewish people who do Thanksgiving.  Sukkot.  I know Jews who do Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is NOT a religious holiday in Canada.  That’s why I feel badly for the non-Catholic students at Loyola (school mentioned in the article).   But is not teaching it better than teaching it?  If Loyola doesn’t have many non-Catholic students, then kids there may not be exposed to other religions all that much.  Wouldn’t it make sense to teach about other religions?  However, at the same time, private religious schools shouldn’t have to teach things they don’t believe in.

What do you think about this?  Do you think Loyola is going too far by considering legal action?

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4 Responses to “Quebec Schools Required to Mark Non-Christian Holidays”

  1. Hmmm.
    I think that all students would take these holidays off. All students are off for Easter Break (now Spring break) and Christmass Vacation (now called Winter break).
    Doesn’t Canada have really strict Hate-Speach laws?
    IMO – all of this overly PC stuff is getting to be ridiculous. It’s getting to be like ancient Rome and their 1001 gods.
    Loyola should file a suit. Is there separation of Church and State in Canada?

  2. John,

    We don’t have an official separation of church and state here. I don’t think we would unless changes are made in the UK (we are part of the British Commonwealth, after all)! We have also long had dual religions/cultures – the French were Catholic and the English were Anglican. Until late 70s/mid 80s, public schools were more or less vaguely Anglican (I remember saying the Lord’s Prayer at a public kindergarten in the 80s) and many provinces still have a publicly funded Catholic school system (this is slowly changing – Quebec did away with publicly funded Catholic schools, I believe). I can understand this being an issue if the school was public, but Loyola is private.

  3. Well…even private schools have to follow the law. What I was asking is , is there any legal standing to fight this mandated inclusion?

  4. John,

    Loyola can possibly argue that the new curriculum is unconstitutional based on the freedoms outlined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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