Finally, Some Good News for Secular Parents in Morinville, Alberta

A couple of weeks ago (and many times before that), I posted about Donna Hunter and the other parents in Morinville, Alberta (Canada) who have been trying to get just one secular school to open in the area. Right now, the only options for their children are religious schools.

There have been many setbacks, but finally, there’s some good news to report!

The Alberta Human Rights Commission has agreed to investigate complaints from four mothers from Morinville, who alleged that the province and the Greater St. Albert Catholic Regional Division violated their rights by denying their children access to a secular public education.

“I’m just shaking,” says Donna Hunter, one of the parents who’s led the public campaign to bring nondenominational public schools to the community. She received the news from her lawyer on Friday morning. “Oh my goodness, I’m thrilled. This is what we’re been wanting the whole time, a forum where we could present why this was unacceptable.”

It’s an untenable situation, which treats the non-Catholic children as second-class citizens and encourages tensions between the two student bodies. Older children must be bused out of the community to attend public school.

On Thursday, Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk served notice in the legislature that he intends to introduce a new bill next week, the St. Albert and Sturgeon Valley Establishment Act.

Lukaszuk can’t speak about details until the bill is formally introduced. But he says it represents a compromise between the three regional school boards, which will solve the public school issues for students from kindergarten through Grade 12 and ensure that parents can vote for their own children’s school trustees.

“There will be some who won’t be happy with the decision, I’m sure, those who don’t want things to change. But to me, this is a human rights issue, and a suffrage issue.”

Hunter, Marjorie Kirsop, and all the other parents who have been leading the charge to make this happen deserve a lot of credit for being so persistent. The fight’s not over yet, but if/when a secular school opens up in Morinville, it’ll be because of their tenacity.

(Thanks to Jeffrey for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Donna Hunter

    Thank you for continuing to post updates and for all your support!

  • Connor McManners

    As someone who grew up in a non-catholic household and went through 12 years of education in Morinville catholic schools, I find it difficult to believe such things. I wasn’t treated as a second-class student, and there was no rivalry between myself and students who were Catholic. While I understand some parents opinons on why there SHOULD be a secular
    school, saying that things are horrible for non-catholic students in Morinville just isn’t true.


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