york region district school board

Schools in Ontario told to honour the Queen even if it's triggering for students

While public schools in York Region were initially instructed to avoid paying tribute to Queen Elizabeth II because her death might be "triggering" to students, the Ontario government has told the school board that schools absolutely must honour the Queen. 

According to Global News, the York Region District School Board sent a memo to public schools following the Queen's death, instructing them to refrain from hosting any tributes or memorials to ensure that schools remained a "neutral environment."

The memo said discussions about the Queen and her death were "not encouraged," particularly because they might be "triggering" and remind students of their own personal losses.

But the province wasn't having it. 

Ontario Minister of Education Stephen Lecce quickly sent a memo to the school board, instructing them to scrap the policy immediately.

"We have made clear our direction that all schools are to recognize the profound impact of Queen Elizabeth II’s lifelong and unwavering devotion to public service," said Lecce in a statement sent to blogTO.

"I have directed this board to implement the province's expectation, honour the Queen on the date of her funeral, and enrich students with a strong understanding of the values of service, and the enduring legacy of Canada's constitutional democracy." 

All schools are reportedly expected to partake in a moment of silence for the Queen, which will take place at 1 p.m. on Monday — a newly-declared provincial day of mourning. A spokesperson for the minister told blogTO while Lecce asked that all schools participate in the moment of silence, any students who choose not to participate do not have to.

"However all schools are to celebrate and memorialize the life of our Head of State, the late Queen of Canada," the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that schools are expected to ensure that the day's activities include "learning about the many contributions the Queen made to our province, country, and Commonwealth, and the Accession of King Charles III to the Throne."

And while the York Region District School Board will oblige, it stands firm in its stance that children will likely have varying reactions to the Queen's death depending on their lived experiences, and that they should be supported while in school. 

"Monarchies are steeped in problematic histories of colonialism which connect to ongoing present day oppression of individuals and groups," the board said in a memo to administrators, according to Global News. 

"It is important to consider how each staff and student's lived experience may potentially shape their perspective of the monarchy and be respectful of this."

Lead photo by

A Great Capture

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