In an Alberta town, parents fight for a secular education
By KATE HAMMER - THEGLOBALMAIL.COM
Added: Sat, 05 Mar 2011 23:21:31 UTC
It wasn’t until her seven-year-old son asked her if he’d burn in hell that Marjorie Kirsop became concerned.
A Catholic education is the only local option for the Kirsop family and everyone else in Morinville, Alta., a community of 8,100 northwest of Edmonton. It’s a unique situation, rooted in the town’s origins as an outpost of French-Canadian Catholicism in the late 1800s. But this fall, when five-year-old Sarah Kirsop declared she had converted to Catholicism, her mother joined a group of local families who are challenging the status quo.
Their campaign for religion-free public education has met resistance from the local public school board – the Greater St. Albert Catholic Regional Division – and drawn little more than a polite hearing from local politicians and Alberta’s Ministry of Education.
The dissident families, who number between five and 15 depending on who is counting, say they want what other Canadians have: freedom of religion, or, in this case, freedom from religion.
"If the provincial government won’t step in, then I’ll have to go to the courts,” she said. “I can’t believe I have to file a court case to get a public education. I feel torn; it would be easier to just move.”
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