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Canada Sikh Days At Surrey School Provoke Parents


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
SURREY – A three-day reading of the Sikh holy book planned by some parents of students at Senator Reid Elementary school is causing controversy.

The reading, or Akhand Path, is planned for Nov. 11, 12 and 13, all days when the school will be closed and no classes held. Nov. 11 is Remembrance Day, Nov. 12 is a professional development day and the 13th is a Saturday.

The event organizers, led by members of the school’s parent advisory council, want to rent space in Senator Reid for the reading.

The final day would include a “celebration of peace” with poems, songs and prayers presented by students from many backgrounds, including Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, agnostics and others.

Senator Reid is in Whalley and has been designated a community school, one that is made available for use as a community centre when school is out. Organizers sent home a letter with Sikh students outlining the plan and asking for parent volunteers to help with the event.

One parent, who asked that her name not be published, thinks the whole thing is wrong. She is Sikh and fears repercussions from others in the community for opposing the Akhand Path.

“First of all, Nov. 11 is Remembrance Day and we should acknowledge that. It’s also my understanding that in Canada, religion and state should not mix,” the woman, whose children go to Senator Reid, said.

“There is a shift to a Sikh perspective at the school and I don’t think that’s right. We are planting the seed of ‘everybody’s different.’”

The proper place for an event such as the reading is in the temple, not in a school, she said.

“I think it’s wrong – it’s just wrong.”

School district spokesman Doug Strachan said the planned event conforms to district policy regarding the use of school property outside classroom hours.

“We’ve been renting school facilities to various churches for a long time. It’s part of our goal to use schools as community centres,” he said.

“It’s not a district-run event or a school-run event and the parents in that group are entitled to use the school.”

Strachan said the event is a fundraiser for the school PAC and the district will consider a request from the organizers to have the rental fees waived.

The dissenting parent had a problem with that, too.

“Bottom line, at the end of the day, it’s taxpayers’ money. All taxpayers.”

Read more: http://www.thenownewspaper.com/Sikh...voke+parents/3690391/story.html#ixzz12nYLjwx2


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1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Sikh reading at school no big deal

Tuesday's front page headline in the Now stopped me in my tracks.

"Sikh days at Surrey school provoke parents" - my first thought was of the many negative letters this will generate. The second thought was, why the heck is the Sikh holy book in a public school? Well, reading further gave me the answers.

It seems a bunch of parents have decided to put to good use the three days Senator Reid Elementary school is closed.

They are planning to hold Akhand Path (Sikh three-day prayer) and raise money for the PAC. We all know how cash-strapped the school district is - not as bad as the Vancouver school district, but still bad. Any money raised that is going to PAC and ultimately to the students is a good thing, right?
I guess the question is, do we focus on the means to an end, or the end only?

According to the article, school district spokesman Doug Strachan doesn't think this is inappropriate. I like that the school district has a philosophy of allowing religious groups to rent schools that have been designated community schools for such purposes (the key word here is "rent.").

Why does a Sikh parent have a problem with this?

Her first objection is that organizers may get to use the premises for free. I'm sure the school district is going to base its decision on rent by looking at past precedents, if any, where a church organization was allowed to use the space for free.

This is especially true if the money raised goes to charity, or in this case PAC.

The woman's second concern is that the reading of the holy book anywhere other than in a temple is wrong.

I called up an "authority" on Sikh religion - my mother.

What she gave me was confirmation that the holy book is allowed to be read anywhere as long as the proper covering above the holy book is observed and the book is elevated so all seated on the ground can view the prayers being conducted.

The other important rule is no meat or alcohol can be consumed on the premises at the same time. (To all Sikhs who say the holy book can't be where alcohol or meat has been served before, remember, many Sikhs have had this prayer in their homes where they have consumed alcohol and meat.) So it is not wrong to hold the prayers in a school.

Including all other religions represented at the school in their proposed "celebration of peace" can only be a good thing.

So why be upset with a group of parents who are trying to raise money for their PAC by having prayers?

This group has chosen "means" that are positive - prayer and inclusion of all faiths - and an "end" - PAC having money - that is beneficial to all students of that school.

© Copyright (c) Surrey Now

Read more: http://www.thenownewspaper.com/life/Sikh+reading+school+deal/3711164/story.html#ixzz137teWnZu



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