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HSD drops prayer at board meetings

By: Grant Burr

Posted: 02/12/2017 11:15 AM

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Following the lead of municipalities that have made similar changes, Hanover School Division began its meeting this past week without a prayer at the start of the meeting.

Over the past year, the provincial government has issued reminders to municipal councils to consider their practices after a Supreme Court ruling out of Quebec that ruled against the practice of opening council meetings with a prayer. The court ruled the practice infringes on freedom of conscience and religion.

Board chairman Ron Falk said no official direction had been provided by the province to the school division but explained that in light of changes being made in some municipalities, the division sought legal advice of its own on the subject. Going forward an opening will still be delivered by trustees without a prayer. Falk indicated that prayers are expected to continue at closed door meetings.

On Tuesday, Steinbach trustee Brad Unger reflected on childhood memories of wishing to be a private investigator, expanding that to encourage everyone to investigate authoritative sources and finally challenged those at the meeting to reflect on a creator who is the ultimate authority in life.

Though the division is making a departure from prayer, Hanover was lauded in recent parent surveys for its commitment to religious instruction and religious exercises in the schools. Those efforts have been increased this year by posting information about religious offerings within the division on individual school websites.

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