Lord’s Prayer in Schools
The Horizon School Division No. 67 prides itself on being an inclusive learning environment that recognizes diversity and promotes understanding and respect for individuals and groups. The Board of Trustees recognize the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all persons and the diverse cultural and religious composition of Alberta society. The Board of Trustees has directed the Dr. Hamman Elementary School at the request of parents to open the school day with the recitation of the Lord's Prayer as is permissible under section 93 of the Constitution Act of 1867 as amended by section 17 of the 1905 Alberta Act which references section 137 and 138 of the Ordinance of the Northwest Territories.
137.(2) It shall however be permissible for the board of any district to direct that the school be opened by the recitation of the Lord's Prayer.
138. Any child shall have the privilege of leaving the school room at the time at which religious instruction is commenced as provided for in the next preceding section or of remaining without taking part in any religious instruction that may be given if the parents or guardian so desire.
Recognizing the sensitivity and complexity of the situation the Board ceased the practice in 2013 until it had the opportunity to more thoroughly examine the impact of the constitutional protection. The review examined the practice as provided within the Constitution Act in light of the application of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Alberta Human Rights Act, the School Act and jurisdiction policy. The Board of Trustees created a policy that delineates process for determining when to direct and when to cease directing schools to open the school day with the recitation of the Lord's Prayer. The policy clearly delineates practice and accommodations without penalty for parents wishing to exempt their children.
April 30, 2015