A mother in British Columbia has lodged a legal challenge against her local school district, alleging that an aboriginal ceremony at her children’s school infringed on the family’s right to religious freedom.
Candice Servatius, whose two children attend an elementary school in Port Alberni, a small city on Vancouver Island, is seeking to have the supreme court of British Columbia ban indigenous ceremonies – and all other expressions of religion – from the public school district.
Not being Canadian, or aboriginal for that matter, I don’t really know the law on the matter. On the other hand, since kids are essentially forced to be at school, it seems unfair to push a particular religious ceremony on them.
Court documents point to a letter to parents, sent home at the start of the 2015 school year, that explained that a member of Vancouver Island’s Nuu-chah-nulth indigenous community would visit the school and lead students in a traditional smudging ceremony.
During the ceremony students would hold a cedar branch while smoke from burning sage would be fanned over them, the letter explained. “This will be our opportunity to learn about Nuu-chah-nulth traditions and experience cleansing of energy from previous students in our classroom … and cleanse our own spirits to allow great new experiences to occur for all us.” Details on when the ceremony would be held were not included in the letter, but a contact was offered for any parents with questions.
I mean no disrespect toward Native Americans, but would anybody have suggested all the kids enjoy The Lord’s Supper in an assembly? Only Native American mysticism can be considered appropriate in public for some odd reason. I think it’s a backhanded insult. This spiritual cleansing thing is just vague enough to appeal to folks who want spirituality without religion.
What were they thinking?