An email from Superintendent of Education Tom Hickey to the principals of Saskatoon Catholic elementary schools says teachers and parent chaperones are not to take students to the “Rainbow Tent” at the Nutrien Children’s Festival this year.“Based on the description on the festival website, engagement and participation by our students in that particular onsite offering would not be supported,” [School Superintendent Tom] Hickey wrote on May 17.
The Nutrien Children’s Festival reiterated its commitment to the Rainbow Tent and inclusive activities. “...We believe that every child should feel heard, loved, accepted and supported and we work hard to provide performances and activities that support this belief.”... Multiple attempts were made to contact Hickey and Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools for comment. All phone calls were transferred to voicemail.
On Friday afternoon, Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools director of education Francois Rivard said the division will continue “to welcome members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community.“The development of the human person and interpersonal relationships are topics that must involve families,” Rivard said in a statement. “We honour parents and caregivers as first and primary educators of their children. Families who send their children to Catholic schools have a reasonable expectation that the education their children receive is consistent with Catholic teachings and is age-appropriate. Therefore, parents and caregivers are best positioned to decide on their children’s participation in this programming within the festival.“We recognize the internal email has been viewed by some as one of judgment, hate and exclusion. That was never the intent, nor does that represent our division’s beliefs. We acknowledge the deep hurt, and for that, we apologize.”
Saskatoon Pride officials said they extend their support to local teachers should they “have any questions moving forward. Saskatoon Pride stands against injustices, and we will continue to uplift and fight for the voices of the 2SLGBTQ+ community members and beyond. It is our hope that the GSCS administration will take our words of wisdom into consideration to include and accept all gender- and sexually-diverse people.“We believe that people are worth fighting for, and we believe that children are worth standing up for.”The Rainbow Tent, Saskatoon Pride said, “is a welcoming and accepting safe space for children, parents, educators, volunteers and friends. We hope that educators within the GSCS will be able to share acceptance and unity with their students while attending the festival. If there is ever a time in our lives where acceptance, understanding, unity, and a little bit of rainbow love is needed for our children, it is now.”
WATCH: Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools is receiving backlash after an internal email was posted online informing staff to avoid a certain tent at an upcoming festival. @KabiMoulitharan has more.— Global Saskatoon (@GlobalSaskatoon) May 26, 2023
READ MORE: https://t.co/jARwgkQ7bB pic.twitter.com/z7yutAgW2b
CUPE education workers from Saskatoon Public Schools, Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools and Prairie Spirit School Division, represented by Locals 8443, 2268 & 3730, are proud sponsors of the Nutrien Children’s Festival – including Rainbow tent! #skpoli https://t.co/zUAwQtUnMe— CUPE Saskatchewan (@CUPEsask) May 26, 2023
The response from the Catholic school board in Saskatoon: we welcome 2SLGBTQQIA students but reserve the right of other students and teachers to shun or judge them according to their family values. Shame on you @GSCSNews . I really expected better. #yxe https://t.co/kxKIBtYwfO— Janice Braden 🇺🇦 (@JL_Braden) May 27, 2023