The province of Manitoba is facing new challenges as local governments and administrators increasingly receive accommodation requests from immigrant families.
The latest incident to create a stir has been the dozen Muslim immigrant families asking one Winnipeg school board to allow exemptions to its curriculum which requires all elementary students to take music classes and co-ed physical education.
“This is one of our realities in Manitoba now,” said local superintendant Terry Borys. “We were faced with some families who were really adamant about this. Music was not part of the cultural reality.”
However, the Muslim cultural reality has a lot of definitions, and one local leader is surprised to hear of this one.
“Who is advising [the families]? My first concern would be who these new immigrants are talking to,” said Shahina Siddiqui, who is executive director of Islamic Social Services. “This is the first time I am hearing this; I’m not very happy about it.”
Siddiqui added that co-ed physical education has not yet been an issue for children who are below the age of puberty, and that any separation requests from junior and high school students have been accommodated.
The provincial school boards are now taking several steps to help address these issues and anticipate future concerns as immigration continues to fuel population growth in Manitoba. Such measures include discussions with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission as well as with local Muslim experts, along with looking toward other provinces, such as Ontario and Quebec, to see how they have been dealing with the issue of accommodation.
Source: National Post