Op-Ed: "Abbotsford Needs an Interfaith School" by Kate Webb

June 15, 2006

Source: The Abbotsford News


On June 15, 2006 The Abbotsford News ran an opinion piece by reporter Kate Webb. She writes, "According to the 2001 census, Abbotsford is the third most ethnically diverse city in Canada, and has the highest proportion of people of South Asian origin per capita in the country. Underlying all that rich cultural diversity, however, there is a startling pattern of segregation that has been weighing on me since I moved to this beautiful town over a month ago. As I watched students from Dasmesh Punjabi School tour Valley Christian School last week, I thought to myself, 'How sad that these children don’t get to regularly mix and play together, simply because their parents want them to have a traditional religious education.' It’s not that I’m against private education. I know that private schools often set the academic bar higher than public schools can, and parents like that. And it’s not that I’m against religion in schools either; parents have the right to ensure their children develop a thorough understanding of their cultural and spiritual heritage. But both Dasmesh and Valley Christian schools teach B.C.’s standard English curriculum during most of the day, so why should these children, who have no choice in the matter, be kept separate all the time? What Abbotsford needs is an innovative new approach to private religious education: an interfaith school. Think how much more the children would learn not only about themselves, but about each other, if they were able to sit side by side during the classes they have in common."