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Native Ceremony takes place at a public school


Boges

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http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/bc-mother-takes-school-board-to-court-over-aboriginal-ceremony-1.3851838

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A mother in Port Alberni, B.C., is taking the school district to court, alleging her children were forced to participate in an Aboriginal spirituality ceremony that she considers religious in nature.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) has filed a petition on her behalf in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo, B.C.

It seeks a declaration that the actions of School District 70 violated the right to religious freedom for Candice Servatius's children.

Servatius's two children attend John Howitt Elementary School in Port Alberni. In September of 2015, the principal wrote to parents to tell them that the school would be hosting a traditional Aboriginal smudging ceremony.

Parents were informed in the letter that students would participate by holding a cedar branch while smoke from sage was fanned over them to experience "cleansing energy."

 

In an age where there are calls to take religion out of a school, how can a public school justify making students participate in a religious ceremony.

Yeah I know Gideons right? 

I think there'd be Hell to pay if a teacher tried to have a Judeo-Christian or Muslim ritual in a public school. We're even completely removing any cultural relevance of Christmas from Public school, but this is allowed? 

Edited by Boges
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12 minutes ago, Boges said:

 

In an age where there are calls to take religion out of a school, how can a public school justify making students participate in a religious

I thought the ceremonies and activities mentioned were more like traditional practices, rather than religious, even if they originated from religious beliefs.   Kind of like Halloween began with Celtic religious practices and Christmas trees originated with ancient pagan religions, although both were co-opted by Catholics.  

If Halloween activities and Christmas symbols are still allowed in schools, then so should these native traditional practices be allowed.  If they've been banned, then I agree with the complainant that allowing one and not the other is a double standard.

So I really don't know, do schools still do things like encourage or allow kids to wear costumes around Halloween, or put up Christmas trees and decorations?    

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1 minute ago, dialamah said:

I thought the ceremonies and activities mentioned were more like traditional practices, rather than religious, even if they originated from religious beliefs.   Kind of like Halloween began with Celtic religious practices and Christmas trees originated with ancient pagan religions, although both were co-opted by Catholics.  

If Halloween activities and Christmas symbols are still allowed in schools, then so should these native traditional practices be allowed.  If they've been banned, then I agree with the complainant that allowing one and not the other is a double standard.

So I really don't know, do schools still do things like encourage or allow kids to wear costumes around Halloween, or put up Christmas trees and decorations?    

Halloween and Christmas festivities are way more cultural than religious. And even the secular aspects of these holidays are being minimized by public schools. This native practice seems overtly religious. Imagine if a public school offered communion? 

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@BogesI've always heard those activities described as cultural or traditional as opposed to religious.   No doubt any tradition springs from a religious practice, but they seem more akin to Halloween than to even Christmas which is still heavily associated with Christianity.   I guess defining just how religious smudging or whatever it is they were doing actually is would be key for me, and I really don't know.   Obviously you feel it is, but I don't know if you're an expert on First Nations, or one of those who automatically take the White/Christians are treated unfairly side of an argument.

I do think the parent should have been gien the option of excusing her child from taking part, if she was so bothered by these events.    

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They should be able to teach kids what the cultural/religious practices are.... but they absolutely cannot subject students to the actual practice.  A demonstration is fine.   "Look, this is how we pray, do our ceremony, etc".   NOT "now we will all pray, do this ceremony to get rid of evil spirits, etc"

The court should rule that this was a breach of the Charter by the school.  

I have been part of First Nations' rituals like this quite frequently and they absolutely invoke "the creator" or "spirits" or their ancestors in nearly every one I can remember.   That's religious.  

Edited by The_Squid
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6 hours ago, Boges said:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/bc-mother-takes-school-board-to-court-over-aboriginal-ceremony-1.3851838

In an age where there are calls to take religion out of a school, how can a public school justify making students participate in a religious ceremony.

Yeah I know Gideons right? 

I think there'd be Hell to pay if a teacher tried to have a Judeo-Christian or Muslim ritual in a public school. We're even completely removing any cultural relevance of Christmas from Public school, but this is allowed? 

Kids shouldn't learn about other cultures, amiright? It's best if they live sheltered lives. Or are you going to tell me that they forced to attend indigenous "religious" ceremonies on a regular basis? Why, the schools are indoctrinating our kids to be native savages! Better take 'em to court.

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6 minutes ago, cybercoma said:

Kids shouldn't learn about other cultures, amiright? It's best if they live sheltered lives. Or are you going to tell me that they forced to attend indigenous "religious" ceremonies on a regular basis? Why, the schools are indoctrinating our kids to be native savages! Better take 'em to court.

I'll repeat. Would you approve of a public school having a class taking communion? Or praying to Mecca on a the floor? 

As Squid mentions, It's fine to learn about other cultures but to participate in their rituals seems to be a bit much. 

Edited by Boges
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2 minutes ago, cybercoma said:

If it's a cultural studies course, I would absolutely be fine with that because it's called learning.

It's not like learning about other cultures are a practical skill that requires an in class demonstration. But regardless, we can disagree on that. 

Do you agree that not making it clear to the students that this was 100% voluntary wasn't appropriate? 

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No I don't. I don't think it was inappropriate. I think whiney people are making mountains out of molehills. I think bigots who hate the indigenous peoples are going to make the biggest stink about it because it's offensive to their white nationalist sensibilities. Boo f***ing hoo, I say.

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I hope she wins and the school respects secular policy. 

Although I think it is a good idea to learn various cultural/religous ideas and practices it is another thing entirely to partake in it. 

Just as I would be horrified if these kids were asked to recite the "Lord's prayer" I find it terrible that they participated in this ritual rather than learned about it. 

I was in Thailand in 2014 just in a tour group. We were asked to participate in a Buddhist ritual.  My wife and everyone else participated and I politely refused.  Of course, all of us being adults this was not a big deal although later I did explain to some that I am a "militant atheist" so they had a sense of true feelings towards religious crap. 

In a school situation where you have authority figures (teachers/principals/religious figures present) and impressionable children then it is a terrible idea to involve the students. 

If they want to get involved then they can do it on their own time with the assistance of their parents/indoctrinators. . 

 

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6 minutes ago, cybercoma said:

No I don't. I don't think it was inappropriate. I think whiney people are making mountains out of molehills. I think bigots who hate the indigenous peoples are going to make the biggest stink about it because it's offensive to their white nationalist sensibilities. Boo f***ing hoo, I say.

I agree, bigots are gonna bigot. 

But there is substance to this issue so the rest of us should step up and adopt the proper stance and ensure that religous crap like this does not happen in any school whether it is the alleged "good guys" (i.e christians) or the alleged "bad guys" (anyone/everyone else with the occassional exception of Judaism depending on whether or not the christians are okay with them or not).  

As for this being a molehill - I don't want the Lords' Prayer being repeated in the classroom so it is only fair that any other group also does not have such a "petty" thing allowed there too. 

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1 minute ago, cybercoma said:

Such a terrible situation....what if the kids actually learned to respect indigenous culture. It's a national nightmare.

They can learn in different ways than participating in it. 

After all, what better way to learn about Christianity than reciting the Lords' Prayer over and over again and learning the Bible with the help of a priest/pastor, amirite???!!! 

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I think it's ridiculous that anyone would have a problem with this or any other such ceremony like reciting the Lords prayer, considering it happened once. They're not converting these kids and they're not insisting that they do it all the time. Even if they had them recite the Lord's prayer? Who gives a toss? I don't see the harm in it that would warrant such a disproportionate and absurd reaction from people.

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Participating in it is discouraged because otherwise teachers/schools abuse it. 

It's a simple case of zero tolerance. Yes, that often leads to poor policy but in this instance it doesn't. 

It allows kids to still learn about it as an outsider.  

These are children for f^cks sake. They are not adults who usually have more experience and not as malleable. 

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I think it would be fine for the students to observe the ceremony. 

But learning about a culture/relgious practice does not require participation and often does not even require observation. 

Muslims like to use a prayer rug and point themselves towards Meccas foolishly in a Euclidian way, for example. I think most kids can understand such things without actually doing it. 

 

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