VANCOUVER – Vancouver school officials have placed restrictions on a Catholic student club operating at a public high school, preventing the club founder from sharing his faith with students.
The officials’ edict means the club will now have to limit its weekly meetings to socializing and general discussions about Catholicism, said Timothy Que, a grade 11 student at Eric Hamber High School who started the club this fall. courtesy of the school.
“It’s disappointing,” he said. âAll I really wanted was to teach Catholic education. “
The restrictions were imposed shortly after a Nov. 15 British Columbia Catholic history of Que’s initiative. He said he learned that members of the public had contacted the Vancouver school board to complain about the club.
âPeople were really angry,â Que said. “Someone on Twitter posted about it – negative stuff.”
Former VSB President Patti Bacchus was one of those commentators. Bacchus tweeted in response to the story, “I’m pretty sure this doesn’t comply with the BC School Act or district policy.”
Patricia MacNeil, director of communications at the Vancouver Board of Education, said section 76 of the BC Education Act “states that schools shall be run on strictly secular and non-denominational principles” and that “no dogma or religious belief should only be taught in a school. “
She said the legislation means that “districts cannot promote a particular religion but they can certainly teach religion.”
MacNeil said that after the article was published, an assistant principal for Eric Hamber met with club members and his sponsor teacher to explain the restrictions and that “the meeting went well.”
Que said he expected some reaction to the founding of the club, but “it’s been a little crazy. I didn’t expect it to be this bad. He confirmed that a school administrator had visited the club “and said we were not allowed to evangelize – not allowed to try to convert people.”
Que explained that he never intended to “do something like go down the halls and preach.” However, he wanted to evangelize those who freely joined the club because they were either “interested in Catholicism or open to changing their mind.”
So far, Que has said he’s holding a weekly educational meeting on a networking platform in addition to the in-person meeting.
“I wish I could do it (at school),” he said. âThe good thing is I can always do something online. “
The parish priest of Quebec at Holy Name of Jesus parish, Fr. Rodney Nootebos, said he was disappointed to learn of the restrictions placed on the Catholic club of Que, “and yet I am not surprised either, this which is rather sad “.
Nonetheless, Nootebos said it seems “ludicrous” to impose restrictions on a Catholic club when other clubs linked to an “ideology”, like LGBTQ +, are allowed.
âAnd yet, you cannot have a club that is dedicated to something that is precious and is an integral part of the daily life of many people,â he said. “I think this is nonsense and very sad.”
Conservative MP Garnett Genuis raised the issue in the House of Commons on December 7, making a statement on threats to freedom of expression, association and religion in Canada.
“Timothy Que, a 16-year-old who attends Eric Hamber High School in Vancouver … tried to start a Catholic club, a voluntary association of students who meet to discuss Catholic ideas, but the administrators him. have prohibited sharing Catholic education at the club, even with students who have chosen to attend the meetings. It is a shameful violation of freedom of association, but it is only a small drop in a growing ocean, âsaid Genuis.