Edmonton Public Schools approves multi-faith days off, but advocates want more
Public schools in Edmonton will soon have a new multi-faith calendar that recognizes more than 100 "days of significance," but will grant just two redirected days off for non-Christian holidays.
National Indigenous People's Day on June 21 and Diwali on Oct 24 will be holidays next year, after Edmonton Public Schools (EPSB) voted Tuesday to shift professional development days.
EPSB is consulting with 10 different faith groups in an effort to make its holidays more inclusive, and several trustees called the process a "good start."
But several speakers at its Tuesday board meeting told trustees that the current calendar and the results of this revamp are falling short of what they want.
The Islamic Family and Social Services Association, along with other groups, are asking for eight religious holidays to be recognized with days off in upcoming years, because they are not happy with the current Christian-focused calendar.
"EPSB’s existing holidays are not neutral; they reflect colonial structures and entrenched privilege," a document from the association said.
"They’re also not reflective of practical reality; many classrooms experience double digit absences on significant cultural holidays that make regular teaching impractical."
A number of advocates agreed with that assessment of the existing holidays, including a vice-chair of Edmonton's Anti-Racism Advisory Committee.
"There are many students that are alienated and their values and their backgrounds are not normalized," Trent Daley said.
"We need to ensure that students are not questioning whether or not to go to school."
A former EPSB student told the board she was faced with that choice firsthand when she wanted to celebrate Eid with her family on a school day.
"How does this place that I love ask me to choose between my culture and this thing that I wish I could celebrate, and having to show up for classes?" Srosh Hassan asked.
"This is a way to make students not have to choose."
EPSB's superintendent signed off on a report that said there were seven days that were requested as new holidays in 2022-23.
The report said four of those requested dates were school days and it recommended one be accommodated with a day off.
"This approach, along with the existing provision of the Education Act for parents to excuse their children from school for religious reasons without academic penalty, will create a more inclusive school environment and yet allow for operational needs of the division," a report submitted by Darrel Robertson said.
The document also asks teachers to consider not planning school events and tests on culturally significant days. The calendar will be reassessed on a yearly basis.
The board voted Tuesday night to add June 21.
ACCOMMODATING EVERYONE IS 'TRICKY'
A member of Edmonton's Interfaith Centre for Education and Action applauded EPSB's effort to recognize significant days of other faiths.
"I think it's a wonderful first step… I love the idea," Netta Phillet said.
"It promotes our vision, which is the embrace of diversity and the idea that the more that we learn about each other, the more we'll get along."
But Phillet called it "tricky," if not impossible to accommodate everyone with days off for religious celebrations
"Even Christians don't all use the same calendar, there are denominational differences, so what is a holiday and who decides what is a holiday is not a straightforward matter," she said.
A petition circulating online is also calling for days off for eight religious events, including Bandi Chhor Divas, Diwali, Eid-ul-Adha, Eid-ul-Fitr, Indigenous Peoples Day, Lunar New Year, Winter Solstice and Yom Kippur in 2023-24.
The petition suggests that existing non-instructional days, often used for long weekends, be shifted and designated for multi-faith celebrations.
EPSB Chair Trisha Estabrooks said the school division will continue working with the advocacy groups and families.
“The school calendar impacts tens of thousands of families in our city and I see this as an opportunity to go back out and connect with families on the significant changes but I’d also like to see some engagement on this idea really, truly, creating more inclusive calendars,” she said.
EPSB's current calendar consists of 178 instructional days and includes holidays on Good Friday and Easter Monday and a winter break from Dec. 20-31.
Students also have Sept. 30 off for National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
A 2021 StatsCan report concluded 63 per cent of Canadians identify as Christians, 26 per cent said they had no religion and the second most common organized religion is Islam at 4 per cent.
Edmonton Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Trudeau decries 'fringe' views of some in trucker convoy, as police prepare for its arrival in Ottawa
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is decrying the 'fringe' views among some of those who are supporting the trucker convoy making its way to Parliament Hill to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other policies they feel infringe on their freedoms.
Indian police have detained six people in a crackdown on illegal immigration after four Indians were found frozen to death near the border between Canada and the U.S. last week, officials said on Thursday.
The Canada Revenue Agency is sending out a new round of letters to pandemic aid recipients to verify they were eligible for the help, and warning of potential need for repayments.
Canada's top doctor says even though the average daily COVID-19 case count across the country is down 30 per cent compared to last week, it's not an accurate reflection of the state of the pandemic.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Wednesday the extension of Operation UNIFIER for three years, and the deployment of 60 more troops to Ukraine in the coming days.
Airline pilot Kyle Hippchen could have -- should have -- been on board when SpaceX launched its first tourists into orbit last year after winning a sweepstakes, but ended up giving the honour to a friend.
Ukrainian police on Thursday detained a National Guard soldier who shot security guards at a military factory for unknown reasons, killing five people and injuring five others, the interior minister said in a Facebook post.
CTV News in Ukraine | 'If I'm called, I will go': Ukrainian reservist and former Voice contestant ready to fight Russian threat
CTV's Omar Sachedina speaks to a Ukrainian reservist and former contestant on Ukraine's version of 'The Voice' about the looming threat of war with Russia.
Crushing poverty is forcing displaced people in Afghanistan to make some very desperate choices, including selling organs or even their own girls into marriage to adult men.
Tuesday’s report of 1,377 COVID-19 patients in hospital was revised to a pandemic-high 1,443 on Wednesday.
'People are fed up': convoy of trucks converges on Ottawa as police prepare for thousands on Parliament Hill
A convoy of hundreds of fed-up Canadian truckers are driving cross-country, heading for the nation’s capital to deliver a message that's raising millions of dollars from donors around the world.
Work is underway converting a vacant Seventh Avenue Calgary office tower into 82 units of affordable and specialized housing.
Nathaniel Carrier has pleaded guilty to first degree murder in connection to the death of his son and second degree murder in connection to the deaths of his parents.
Saskatchewan reported 1,194 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, along with six more deaths, however active cases are down again.
A popular Riversdale restaurant says it's putting a "pause" on its operations.
Saskatchewan’s premier is hinting some COVID-19 restrictions could soon be lifted, saying current measures may have run their course.
Whether its memories of attending them, or the recent discoveries of unmarked graves at the sites of former residential schools, many people have been mentally strained by the former schools.
Sylvester Ukabam, a former Regina doctor accused of sexually assaulting five female patients, continued to deny allegations made against him from the witness stand on Wednesday morning.
Premier Tim Houston said Nova Scotia is extending its current provincewide COVID-19 public health restrictions until Feb. 14 in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus.
An area of low pressure originating off the coastline of Florida will merge with a cold front on Friday. The resulting storm will rapidly strengthen into a nor’easter, which will move north to impact the Maritimes Saturday into Sunday.
The Halifax Regional Police are on the scene of a sudden death at a hotel in the city.
A family is breathing a sigh of relief after a terrifying fire at an apartment in Etobicoke forced a mother to break a second-floor window to save her 10-month-old daughter.
An Ontario woman who says she was offered a free doorbell by a salesperson said she wishes she didn't then sign a 15-year contract for a furnace that will cost her $12,748.
Drivers are being warned to expect significant traffic delays on major highways from Thursday to Saturday as the 'Freedom Convoy' of truckers enters Ontario.
Three COVID-19 patients who were unvaccinated or partially vaccinated have received double lung transplants at a Montreal hospital after their lungs were irreversibly damaged by the disease. One patient was a 49-year-old mother of five.
Since the start of the pandemic, Quebec has issued tickets totaling more than $45 million for public health violations, but only a fraction of them have actually been paid so far, according to data provided to CTV News.
'A terrifying experience’: Montreal mother shares ordeal as ICU sees increase of children admitted with COVID-19 in fifth wave
The medical director at the PICU in the Montreal Children’s Hospital says it is seeing more children get sick with COVID and be sick enough to come to the ICU.
Officials are urging people to avoid downtown Ottawa this weekend with a cross-country ‘Freedom Convoy’ of truckers expected to arrive at Parliament Hill.
NEW THIS MORNING
NEW THIS MORNING | Truck convoy expected to roll into Kingston, Ont. this afternoon
The Canada Unity website says the 'Freedom Convoy' will depart Vaughan, Ont. at 12 p.m. and arrive in Kingston at 5 p.m. The convoy is expected to travel along Hwy. 401 through Port Hope to Kingston.
NEW THIS MORNING
NEW THIS MORNING | Here are the Ottawa neighbourhoods with the highest third-dose COVID-19 vaccination rates
As Ottawa Public Health continues to encourage residents to get their booster dose, statistics show only two Ottawa neighbourhoods have at least 70 per cent of eligible residents with three doses.
All Region of Waterloo vaccination clinics will offer walk-ins for all eligible residents, starting Jan. 31.
Officials reported four new deaths related to COVID-19 on Wednesday, along with a dip in hospitalizations.
'There are some calls that stick with you': A dramatic increase in mental health disability claims amongst first responders
First responders, like paramedics, firefighters, and police officers say they often deal with mental health challenges.
Sault Ste. Marie's Group Health Centre has been granted an extension by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario for its annual Big Wish Lottery.
While the region is not out of the woods with regard to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, Algoma's medical officer of health says there is reason for optimism.
In the next few months, the Timmins Youth Wellness Hub will be getting ready to open up its new permanent location.
Manitoba's top doctor says hospitalization rates remain high but are stable – though it is too early to tell where the province is in the pandemic's current wave.
A U.S. border patrol agent says a group of people from India attempting to cross the Canada-U.S. border faced blizzard conditions and freezing temperatures during an 11-hour-long trek that left four people dead.
Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer said the province is continuing to see a significant amount of spread of COVID-19.
The City of Vancouver is reminding homeowners they only have one week left to make their annual Empty Homes Tax declaration.
Twenty-one more COVID-19 related deaths were reported in B.C. on Wednesday, the highest single-day total the province has added to its death toll since December 2020.
The B.C. government is under pressure to reconsider a change that means some people on disability are getting less money – despite the government's vow to support them through the pandemic.
Five deaths related to COVID-19 were confirmed in the Vancouver Island region Wednesday, according to the B.C. Ministry of Health.
British Columbia's forest watchdog has identified four key areas where the management of forestry practices can negatively affect water and outlines potential opportunities for the province to improve regulations.
The British Columbia government says it will distribute up to 250,000 rapid COVID-19 antigen tests to provincially funded child-care providers.