There’s Now a Secular Education Option for Students in Morinville!

Remember Donna Hunter?

She was the parent from Morinville (in Alberta, Canada) who was doing everything she could to get at least one secular school in the area to combat the four Catholic schools already there.

When I posted about it in April, the school board had rejected her request, but they were “conducting a survey” to see how many other parents felt the way Hunter did.

Hunter moved out of the city before any results were revealed so her kids could get a real, secular education.

Maybe it’s too little too late for her, but it looks like Hunter’s work paid off!

starting in September, the nearby — and secular — Sturgeon School Division has agreed to provide secular education in Morinville.

”The parents have said, ‘We have a public board, we believe the public board should be educating all students….’ There should not be a faith component infused into all of the lessons,” said Michele Dick, superintendent of schools for Sturgeon.

”I’m so relieved to hear the decision has finally been made officially that someone will provide a secular education option,” Donna Hunter, a parent who led the fight, told the CBC.

”Parents now actually have someone to call and say, ‘I want to register for this program’ and they can actually register.”

Congratulations to Hunter for spearheading the charge for non-religious education and for winning the battle! Thanks to her, hundreds of children can focus on getting an education free of religious indoctrination next year.

By the way, the survey that was commissioned had some surprising results:

A survey commissioned by Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools found that an estimated 272 students would attend secular schooling if it was available in Morinville, including 200 currently enrolled at a Greater St. Albert Catholic school. Of the 334 parents surveyed, 37.8% said they supported a ”non-faith-based option” in the town.

The one downside to this is that parents who send their kids to the secular school won’t have any chance at a say in how it’s run:

That prompted Hunter to call the deal only a partial victory.

“How is that acceptable that for you to receive a public secular education in 2011 as a resident of Canada, you don’t get electoral rights to your child’s education?” she asked. “We can’t run for trustees, we can’t vote for trustees.”

Still, that’s something that’ll change in relatively short time. This is a huge victory for parents who don’t want religion infused into their child’s education.

(Thanks to Janice for the link!)

  • CanadianNihilist

    Well this story makes me feel better about Alberta. Someone here said it was Canada’s Texas. Looks like there might be hope to change that; Small gradual change over time. School evolution?

  • Austin

    I didn’t know Canada had a lot of religious freaks. :/

  • Ibis

    FFS, this situation was an accident of a positive element of our constitution, not an indication of Alberta being “Canada’s Texas” or of Canada having “a lot of religious freaks”. I’m happy that students in St. Albert have a secular option & hope that Alberta (and Ontario, where I live) soon follows the lead of Quebec and Newfoundland and gets rid of public funding for Catholic schools altogether, but please place credit and blame where it’s due. The “religious freaks” who are responsible for this happening are more than a century and a half dead. It was with good intention and good result that the Establishment religion was not imposed upon at least some minorities. Instead, there might have been Anglophone Protestant residential schools for French and Irish Catholics as well as for aboriginal peoples.

  • Michelle

    I’m glad they are finally making this needed change. I do wish that the reporters and commentators didn’t keep calling it SECULAR school. It is PUBLIC school which offers Christian specific programming (LOGOS) as well as charter Christian Schools (Dutch Reform based). All the public schools, regardless of program, still hand out Gideon bibles to all children in all grade 5 classes, unless a child is exempted by their parents (so, if you miss seeing and signing the exemption form, your kid is being presented a bible without true informed consent.)

    Far from the secular schools we need here. Alberta is a religious province, with a lot of fundamentalists with many choosing to homeschool to avoid exposing their kids to outside ideas. I know, because I live in one community that is like that, and find myself watching carefully what the schools are doing when they teach my kids.

  • Traziness

    I live in Edmonton, right next to Morinville, and I can confidently say this area is NOT heavily religious. The situation in Morinville seems to be of the ‘always been there, just kept going’ type of situation. In fact, the Catholic school system has been known to provide a good education, sometimes better than the public school system (smaller classes/more teachers) despite the classes on religion that are in addition to the usual curriculum. This is why there hasn’t been a big outcry against it. I am not at all surprised by the number of people who would choose non-catholic schooling if it was available. It sounds quite indicative of general religiousity in this area. We are, however, living in a country where almost ALL our citizens came from somewhere else and have varying traditions and cultural habits, as well as religions. Our melting pot usually means we are all used to taking part in other lifestyles and cultures and religions. It’s just not something to get upset about when the balance of these elements isn’t tipped completely in favor of one culture or religion. So yes, it’s about time there was a secular option in all areas, but it doesn’t surprise me they flew under the radar for so long.

  • Michelle

    @Traziness

    The Catholic community certainly is much more relaxed religion-wise. Those families that choose LOGOS schooling in the public system are choosing it because they believe Christian values are a desired part of education, and that the Catholic system does not meet their criteria. The same goes for the Strathcona Christian Academy.

    I’m in Sherwood Park, and there is quite a religious population here (United, Lutheran, Dutch Reform, Mormon, etc) many of whom are quite zealous. Without trying to paint everyone with the same brush…I have met a number of people who are quite intolerant and closed-minded when it comes to the beliefs of others, and believe that our society “has gone to hell in a hand basket”, because religion has been removed from public schools.


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