Celebrating diversity will help create an inclusive, welcoming and safe school environment.
That's the message delivered to city education officials at the Valhalla Inn Wednesday from Eric Roher, a partner and national leader of the Education Focus Group with Borden Ladner Gervais law firm.
"We're here to create a new global citizen," Roher said. "Students that are comfortable in a world community with different faiths, different viewpoints, different perspectives."
"It makes students feel more comfortable in their school community."
Roher focused on religious accommodations and having an equity and inclusive education policy in all schools across the province.
"Thunder Bay has a very diverse range of people," he said.
"Some of our schools have Muslim students, Jewish students, Sikh students, Christian students, Catholic students."
Each school should invite parents and students to inform their school of the types of faith-based accommodations they require, whether it be dietary, clothing-related or about religious holy days.
Then schools can make the necessary adjustments, which may be as simple as including non-Christian songs in a Christmas-themed concert or adding items to the cafeteria menu.
"The idea is to make other students feel comfortable and accepted in the school community and also to inform all of the students about the range of different faiths," said Roher.
Lakehead Public Schools education officer Eric Fredrickson said the public board has an equity and inclusive education policy already in place for religious and other accommodations and the session with Roher helped them reinforce that policy.
"I think we always hear from families and from students when there are concerns or when they're troubled about things," he said.
"We do our best to accommodate those as quickly as we can at the school level. What (Roher) brings here is the legal or bigger picture for us to help us see that through a broader scope across the province," Fredrickson added.
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