The Importance of Celebrating Canadian Holidays in our Schools

BY KYLEEN GRAY

When my daughter started ELK in the fall of 2014, I was excited for her to attend my childhood school and have all the wonderful experiences that I had as a child. But schools have changed since 1984. That became painfully clear as Halloween approached and parents received a letter home that costumes would not be allowed, and instead, students would be able to wear ‘black and orange.’ Not sure if I missed something, but the last time I checked, ‘Black and Orange Day’ was not a holiday.

I soon learned that many parents planned on ignoring the letter and sending their children in costumes anyways. I followed suit, and when I picked my daughter up on October 31st that year, every student I passed was wearing a costume. A silent revolution, you’d say. Yay, parents.

Luckily, Halloween still flourishes at my kid’s public school, as does a vibrant Holiday concert (where the word ‘Noel’ is freely used). But this school and ones like it seem to be the exception these days. More and more schools are choosing to censor Canadian holiday traditions, or worse transform them into Frankenstein holidays with little to no meaning.

Why is it that as Canadians we can’t stand up for our cultural traditions without being labelled as marginalizing minorities? We are just too polite and accommodating – so much so that our cultural traditions are now fading from our schools. We do have to be sensitive to other cultures and minorities in our midst, but not by ignoring our own cultural traditions.

Schools are reflections of society. If we allow holidays to vanish from or be transformed in our schools, what are we teaching this generation of children about our Canadian cultural traditions? As Canadians, we should be open to new traditions and learning about other cultures populating our borders, but not by forsaking our own.

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