B.C. mom fights First Nation ceremony in school

B.C. mom fights First Nation ceremony in school - image
Jonathan Hayward / The Canadian Press

NANAIMO, B.C. – A mother in Port Alberni, B.C., wants the courts to stop her local school district from allowing religious exercises in public schools.

Candice Servatius has filed a petition in B.C. Supreme Court after her children were required to take part in what she alleges were religious practices at John Howitt Elementary School in Port Alberni.

Servatius says in the petition that an event the school described as a traditional First Nation Nuu-chah-nulth “classroom and student cleansing” occurred in her children’s classrooms in September 2015, and her unwilling daughter was informed it would be rude to refuse to participate.

After she complained, the petition says School District 70 agreed to stop all further spiritual exercises, but then allowed what she alleges was a prayer based on aboriginal spirituality at a student assembly in January, 2016.

According to the petition, Servatius says school officials have refused to honour the School Act and Charter of Rights provisions respecting religious neutrality.

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She wants the courts to declare the school district violated her right to freedom of religion, and she is seeking costs and an order that the district be prohibited from offering religious rituals, ceremonies or cleansings at any of its schools.

None of the allegations have been proven in court and no one from the school district responded to requests for comment.

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