Letter: Support for non faith-based education in Morinville

Dear editor:

We, like Donna Hunter, had no idea when we moved to Morinville that it was the only town in Alberta where all of the public schools are Catholic schools. Yes we should have done our research before buying but it honestly never occurred to us that we needed to. We assumed that every town had a regular public school. Now finally the question has been asked. Why should our children not be given access to the same non faithed based education that every other Albertan is entitled to receive unless we are willing to go out of town to get it? Those few who have been willing to speak out against change have been less than open minded “Conform or get out”, “bus or move” and in the same sentence “don’t you want your children to learn tolerance, respect, good values and morals?” as if we are somehow incapable of teaching our children those things in absence of religion. To us, this is all about choice and the lack thereof. Morinville has grown dramatically over the last ten years and its population is becoming more diverse. Schools should reflect that change. Busing our children is only a temporary solution to a problem that has been accumulating for years. No one is trying to take choice away from parents who want their children to receive a Catholic education and we have absolutely no disrespect for the teachers and staff at the Catholic school our children currently attend. They are doing their job and teaching our children under their Catholic mandate. It is, however not a mandate we choose for them. As their parents the ultimate choice about what religious influences, if any, our children receive should be made by us. We thank Donna Hunter and the delegation of proponent parents for their bravery in finally and publicly challenging the staus quo and refusing to just conform. We stand with you. 70% of the town’s students are not from Catholic parents. It is time for change, and what is so wrong with that?

Trevor and Jennifer Love, Morinville

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  1. Just a quick comment – Morinville isn’t quite the only town in Alberta where only Catholic schools exist. Here in Legal, we have two schools, and both of them are Catholic as well. With that said, they are quite respectful of the fact that not all students attending subscribe to their faith, and offer the opportunity for students to opt out of direct religious education and activities. However, there is no escaping the fact that Catholic beliefs permeate throughout the school.

    Like the growing movement in Morinville, I would prefer our available educational facilities to be uninfluenced by religious beliefs. In a perfect world, it would be nice if by default everyone had access to public schools, with religious schools (of any faith, not just Catholic) available as a *second* choice only in those locations where there is a preponderance of people of that faith. But our schools were established many years ago, in a time when religious diversity was not as extensive as it now is. From a practical standpoint, I don’t expect the Catholic school board to start operating what would effectively be public schools, or to give up the schools they already operate to the public board. However much I might wish it, I can’t see how anything will easily change. So, we take the attitude that our children will be exposed to Catholic beliefs. We make sure though that they understand that despite what is said in school, religious beliefs are just that – beliefs, not fact. They don’t have to agree with what’s said, or partake in rituals they do not believe in, but it’s valuable to them to understand what others believe in. That can only serve to make them more understanding and accepting as individuals.

  2. Trevor and Jennifer your letter is simple, to the point and well put! thank you! and there is nothing wrong with change. you need change to grow and remain alive. come on Alberta – its time to open our eyes and see what is happening and change for the better!

  3. I think this is quite clearly an issue not for the town but for the Greater Edmonton Public School Board. They are the ones who have failed to provide Morinville citizens with a secular option. There could be no schools in Morinville at all–we should be thankful that at least the Catholic school board is filling the need.

    It’s also important to realize that Morinville has a strong Catholic heritage. I would not move into a muslim community and expect them to transform their muslim schools to meet my desires for education. If the citizens and leadership of Morinville believe maintaining a Catholic heritage in our schools is important there is nothing wrong with that. We are not a secular community by any means.

    I am not Catholic and I have attended Catholic schools and I find the Catholic atmosphere pervasive but not imposing. Consider it an opportunity for your children to experience another view–a part of their education. It’s not going to brainwash anyone.

  4. You might want to research the school act. The public school board for St. Albert, Morinville, and Legal is GSACRD. Edmonton has nothing to do with it. Legislation directs how a public school system is to be run, to whom it holds responsibility and what it’s limitations are. The history of the town and it’s roots are not in question. The ability of a public school board to operate in the manner that GSACRD does most certainly is.


    Thomas Kirsop

  5. To all readers,

    Like it or not, our system of beliefs in Canada were founded in the Christian faith and we just so happen to live in the best country in the world. Chance? I don’t think so. There are millions of negative influences in the world outside our doors, and I’m happy that we have a positive one with our school system in Morinville. The Catholic school system in Morinville, because of all the non Catholics, don’t enforce the traditional Catholic beliefs. Kids don’t have to attend Mass or have to participate in the religion class. Actually, the school requires a letter of consent from parents to do so. The school system here teaches from the platform of love as displayed by Jesus in the New Testament. Read the bible and see for yourself. It’s a good book!

    Proud Parents with kids in Morinville Schools,

    Bryant and Valerie Ralph

  6. @ Bryant Ralph,

    In my opinion, your suggestive/pushy response demonstrates exactly why so many of us want a non-faith based school. Thank you for providing the ‘In your face’, obviously a Catholic response. We know, you’re doing what your God asks of you, so I’ll do the masses a favour… Let me ask a fair question, WHAT IF THERE WERE ONLY PUBLIC NON FAITH BASED SCHOOLS in a community with 70% of the population being dedicated/practicing Catholics? I think the same would be asked of your kind. Let’s get smart and be respectful of peoples’ decisions. I don’t tell you what you HAVE to do with your children, so don’t tell me what I HAVE to do with mine!

  7. Dear UnNamed,

    “Obviously a Catholic response”? First of all, I am not Catholic, and secondly I didn’t mean to offend anyone. What I am saying is that it doesn’t bother me that my non catholic kids go to a catholic school. We can’t get away from religion where ever go in the world. That said, i do understand that there is a group of people who would like to have a public school here, and I’d be more than o.kay with that.
    To answer your question “if there were only public non faith schools…” I went through kindergarten to grade 12 in a public non faith school in a town with only one school, and it was fine. Education is the important thing here, not religion, and our kids get an excellent education in our schools in Morinville. and yes they can get an excellent education in a public school as well. don’t put words in my mouth.

    named Bryant

  8. You have a choice now to exclude your kids from religion classes at the school but if the current proposals to the School Act are adopted this spring then that right will not be available next year.

    Specifically this is (only some of) what is going to change:

    Section 50(2) entitles a parent of a student to allow the student to be excluded from religious instruction or exercises by having that student leave the classroom, or remain in the classroom without taking part in the religious instruction or exercises. This provision should not apply to Catholic separate or Catholic public schools. The essential purpose of Catholic schools is to fully permeate Catholic theology, philosophy, practices and beliefs, the principles of the Gospel and teachings of the Catholic church in all aspects of school life, and all resident students should be required to participate fully in religious instruction or exercises in a Catholic school.

    Additionally you will not be able to sit on a school counsel or run for school trustee unless you are a practicing Catholic (proof from Church will be required)

    for those of you happy with the system now things are going to change so don’t get too comfortable.

  9. @ Bryant Ralph

    I’ll sincerely apologize for making the assumption that you must be Catholic; not saying that would be negative but rather a conflicted interest in change. Be it Christian or any religious belief you (or anyone else) may have (or not have), I’m disturbed by the complacent nature people are taking on this issue. The Catholic teachings are influential within the schools. I simply see no reason to bring Catholicism into the public school system this day in age, especially to those who have no background in the belief. It is confusing, fearful, pushy and invasive. You tell me what covers the interior walls of the schools. You can’t tell me that doesn’t cause for much questioning and confusion to a 6 or 7 year olds mind!

    We choose not to attend a church…why should my kids be forced into a faith based school, even with the option of EXCLUDING them from partaking in certain classes? This copies what many cults claim, the option of choice. But with the non-developed brains of young people it influences, sucks in, brainwashes by use of fear and convinces them they should be part of such an organization. WE HAVE NO CHOICE in Morinville! That is the truth. We have enough worries with pedophiles and other ill creatures that I don’t see why I should have ward off the good people in this town who simply have different religious views than I do. WITH GROWTH SHOULD COME POSITIVE CHANGE!

  10. @ anonymous,

    Thank you for that information. I can only hope this town becomes more comfortable.

  11. There was a time when some fought to keep people as slaves.
    There was a time when some fought to keep women from being able to vote.
    There will come a time when the fight to keep any religion out of the public education system will be behind us all.
    It will be in the homes, private school and chuches of the parents and not the public school systems.

  12. Dear still Unnamed,

    are you seriously putting our school system in the same category as “pedophiles and other ill creatures”???? be careful with your words. There is no “brain washing” going on. if you want to advocate for a public school in Morinville, do it without slamming the school we have. Stop being so paranoid. This conversation is over. good bye.

    still named Bryant

  13. Hello Mr. Ralph.

    Given what happened with my kids sir, I will slam the school system, and in particular the school board, if I like. There is most certainly pervasive, and consistant exposure and application of one belief system, above and to the exclusion of all others, in my childrens public elementary school, and the mandate of the public school board is very clear that “that is as it should be”.

    If “UnNamed” wishes to call it brainwashing, given some of the experiences I’ve gone through with my children, I would not be overly inclined to disagree, but then that is my experience as one who has no particular leaning to any of the recognised Christian faith systems.

    We all have different tolerance levels and perceptions as to limitations, a Catholic may or may not find the school situation acceptable (I know of at least one post on this very site where one professing to be of the faith spoke against the school system), a Christian may or may not find the school situation acceptable ( there have been some comments that some christianity is better than none).

    I however as a member of neither of those two groups say to you that in a PUBLIC school I do NOT find the representation of one, above, and to the exclusion of all others, to be acceptable at all.

    and I am not alone.


    Thomas Kirsop

  14. @ Bryandt,

    The referring to me as “parandoid” is ignorant and confusion on your part….I’m a realistic individual. As an attendee of a Catholic school, I have first hand experience of its doings. And yes, it was a pervasive place which allowed for ill creatures drunk with brainwashing religious power to negatively affect the innocent children within. My husband went to a faith based school and in turn lacked proper direction and instruction due to the teachings. And to think parents thought they were doing a good thing!

    So step back and perhaps take those rose colored glasses off your tunnel visioned peepers…it’s not always as it seems. Consider your own words carefully before spitting such intended venom; it only comes out sounding like runny stool. What one person thinks is right for their child isn’t always right for someone elses. I’m happy that you find happiness in the system that is right for you and yours.

  15. If you have a child with special needs, then I agree totally that parents need to do their homework. However, you shouldn’t have to do research to find out if your public school is truly “public.” Ask any military family that has lived outside of Alberta – you won’t see a crucifix or Virgin Mary at the door unless you enrol them in a separate Catholic or private school.

    As a non-Catholic, I take offence at the Superintendent’s comments that it is the (Catholic) faith that makes Morinville schools stronger and achieve higher results. Many public schools across the country achieve equal or higher results without faith.

    Isn’t it amazing how bringing in a Catholic school into Stettler will “enrich the community and make people want to live there.” But when the metaphorical shoe is on the other foot, suddenly education quality would suffer and needlessly split tax dollars by establishing a non-faith based “public” school in Morinville. Wow. That is about as two-faced as you can get.

    Reading the WCR article, Donna Gamache hit the nail on the head, “I think a Catholic school is very important especially for small children who are being formed in their faith.” Both religions and dictatorships throughout history have long recognized the tabula rasa, or blank slate, that children’s minds are and have sought (and fought) to win them over to their cause as early as possible. That is one of the many reasons why we have public, non-faith based schools.

    The faith-based curriculum, the crucifixes and Virgin Mary should all be removed from the foyer and put in a room devoted to optional religious studies while the rest of the school gets on with a non-faith based curriculum. Maybe the Catholic school board should set up their own separate schools. It works in Stettler, so why not in Morinville? What if the Catholic schools are struck down and have to move to make way for public? I bet bussing is no longer an acceptable option. Morinville is Stettler all over again, but in reverse. Morinville’s schools are Catholic not public. It is time to put “public” back into the names and curriculums of Morinville’s schools. Keep fighting Donna, you are doing the right thing.

  16. it’s paranoid, not “parandoid”, and it’s Bryant, not “Bryandt” where did you go to school????

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