To whom it may concern,
Recently on September 10th at Bayside Secondary School it was decided to hold a "Support Our Troops" day on which students were encouraged to wear red in support of Canadian soldiers fighting in Afghanistan. Our school has been holding this event for several years now.
I am not against the event in itself, which is non-partisan in nature however the way in which the event was managed has for the past two school years resulted in a huge infringement upon the rights that I as a Canadian take great pride in.
One of the most blatant violations was the forced participations which students were subjected to. The major event during "Support Our Troops Day" was a picture taken of the entire school in the bus loading area, the photos of which for the past two years can be seen below:
[Both Photographs, With a Caption]
These photos were taken on break, between first and second period. Students were told, not encouraged, to go out and have the photo taken. Those who objected on reasons of objection to the war in Afghanistan and / or the military were in several cases told to go out anyway. During the first year this happened to me personally however this year I managed to abstain from standing in the crowd, though only after a lenthy and ardent refusal backed by my friends. During that day all teachers patrolling the halls became immediately defensive and irate once you refused to participate, even politely and with an explanation.
Such blatant indoctrination is an affront to the values of freedom of thought, belief and opinion as laid out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and freedoms, a document which as a free and democratic country is supposed to ensure that no higher authority can abuse us ideologically. This was also an affront to a student's right to refrain from participating in non-academic activites in the school community.
As if that wasn't enough, during that Friday and the days leading up to it the death statistics for 9/11 and slogans such as "support our troops, they're fighting for our freedom" were aired on the announcements every morning. These are indirect justifications for the war and an attempt not to imbue student with the ability to think for themselves and develop their own beliefs, but a deliberate attempt to foster pro-war sentiments among the student body. This is against several board policies, in particular those on Character Development (Procedure 225) and those that mention Responsible Citizenship (145).
I, the undersigned, would like to politely ask for the school board intervention in this matter, as your receiving of this letter means that the loca head of staff, the principal, has refused to take this matter seriously. If it would be at all within your powers I would like to suggest that this event be removed from future curriculum, or at the very least the more partisan aspects of it be removed. As someone who is personally involved in the anti-war movement I take this as a personal insult to my rights and freedoms. Below is a list of 25 members of the school community who agree with me on this matter:
[List of 25 signatures, with emails]
We, the undersigned as well as the 25 above, would please like to ask that this matter be dealt with as it is an affront to the purpose of the education system. Please feel free to contact me at [phone number and email address].
Bayside Secondary School