Bibles will not be handed out in Iqaluit schools: DEA
“The key was fairness, that everybody is treated the same”
There will be no Bibles, Korans or Hindu scriptures handed out to Iqaluit students after a Nov. 21 decision by the Iqaluit District Education Authority that bans the distribution of religious materials on school property.
The issue was brought to the attention of the Iqaluit DEA after Arviat’s DEA said it would allow Gideons International to hand out Bibles in all three of the community’s schools Nov. 21 and 22.
Alan Weeks, chair of Iqaluit’s DEA, said the issue was placed on the agenda of the committee’s Nov. 21 board meeting.
The DEA wanted to establish a clear set of rules for all religious groups whose members might want to hand out material in local schools, he said.
“The key was fairness, that everybody is treated the same and we are showing no favouritism to anyone. I think this was the best road to take,” said Weeks of the DEA’s decision to ban the distribution of any religious materials in Iqaluit schools.
The Iqaluit DEA had received three letters from parents who said they did not want Bibles passed out in Iqaluit schools, he added.
Nunavut’s Education Act allows DEAs to “grant permission for the distribution of religious materials in schools outside of the education program.”
Nikki Eegeesiak, administrator for the Coalition of Nunavut DEAs, told Nunatsiaq News individual DEAs also have the right to deliver programs they see fit.
But Nunavut’s deputy minister of education, Kathy Okpik, said “no one, including teachers and students can be forced to participate in religious programs or receive religious materials if they object on personal, moral, or religious grounds.”
She released a statement Nov.18 outlining the Government of Nunavut’s policy on the distribution of religious materials in schools.