Edmonton students can opt out of Remembrance Day ceremonies: Board

EDMONTON – While most kids don their Remembrance Day poppies with pride and sing their hearts out during their school’s ceremony, some students in the city can opt out of the affair altogether. Several Edmonton public schools allow students to opt out of attending Remembrance Day ceremonies, on a case by case basis.

“All of our school’s participate in Remembrance Day ceremonies,” Edmonton Public Schools spokeswoman Jane Sterling said. “In some instances, there are parents who choose not to allow their child to participate.”

Sterling says it’s fairly rare that parents ask to take their kids out of the ceremony, and the reason behind the choice can vary.

“Sometimes it’s due to religious belief, sometimes they might have had a death in the family, among other reasons,” she said, adding the option to not attend is mandated as part of the provincial school act.

Some Edmontonians – including several veterans – have voiced their disapproval over allowing kids to opt out of recognizing the troops who gave their lives for Canada’s freedom.

They say regardless of religion, the day is dedicated to commemorating the sacrifice of the country’s troops – who fought for the freedom of all Canadians.

But retired major-general Lewis MacKenzie, 71, says demanding every child adhere to a social standard is a slippery slope.

“It’s unfortunate, but there are all kinds of factors, especially when related to religion,” he said. “That’s an understandable reaction but if it’s in rare cases, it’s not fair or just to make a big deal out of it.”

He says he’d like to remind those who may have taken offence to the practice that “the youth these days pay great attention to veterans.”

“They are making their decisions and that should be respected,” MacKenzie said.

Students who don’t attend their school’s Remembrance Day ceremonies are required to remain in school and wait in silence, Sterling said.

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