|An aboriginal purification ritual known as "smudging"is performed at Tekakwitha Conference in Fargo, North Dakota. (Photo Credit: CNS/Nancy Wiechec)|
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms has filed a petition with the B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo to protect parental and conscience rights, and call for government neutrality in religious matters.
Candice Sevatius received a letter from her children's school of John Howitt Elementary in Port Alberni, explaining the children would be taking part in a religious 'cleansing ritual' performed by a "Nuu-chah-nulth Member". The letter described specific beliefs of the Nuu-chah-nulth, including how "everything is one, all is connected" and "everything has a spirit."
Sevatius arrived at the school the day after receiving the letter to learn more about the ritual, but found the ritual had already occurred, and her children had be coerced into the ritual on the grounds that it was "rude" not to participate.
"This case is profoundly important. This is by no means the only instance of government authorities brazenly challenging the constitutional rights of parents and the rule of law," stated Calgary lawyer and Justice Centre president John Carpay. "Prayer and religious ceremonies have been illegal in public schools in Canada for over 25 years. But it appears School District 70 is more preoccupied with political correctness than the law."The petition can be viewed here. For more information on the case background or court documents, click here.