Sunderland Public School in Sunderland, Ont., recently sent home a permission slip to parents — a permission slip that left many parents absolutely baffled. This was not a permission slip regarding students going on a field trip or taking part in a school dance. Rather, the local Lions Club in Sunderland thought it would be a nice gesture to give the Grade 1 students a Canadian flag.
Alas, these days, no good deed goes unpunished. Because in advance of the free flags being handed out, the school sent out letters to parents to see if it was, you know, okay to distribute this “material” to the youngsters. No, we’re not making this up. Were the Lions handing out Canadian flags — or pornography?
Here's what Principal Jennifer Fisher said in her bizarre letter to parents: “On June 28, our Grade 1 students will have the opportunity to meet with a member of the Sunderland Lions Club to learn a little about the history of Canada and why we celebrate Canada Day. Students will also have the opportunity to receive a Canadian flag from the Sunderland Lion's Club. If you prefer that your child does not receive a Canadian flag please return the bottom portion of this letter to the school prior to June 28. If you do not return the form, your child will receive a flag."
Principal Fisher then noted to parents that if they had "concerns about this presentation or the flag" then they could contact their child's teacher or the office.
We reached out to Principal Fisher but were told she was in a meeting. When we visited the school recently, she declined to come on camera.
Nevertheless, we reached out to the Durham District School Board. And according to spokeswoman Rachael Matheson, the ostensible policy reason for the permission slip was to essentially be… environmentally friendly… and to avoid offending… Indigenous people?
Says Matheson: “Schools don't often distribute Canadian flags and we wanted to ensure that we weren't wasteful in terms of families already having one, or not intending to make use of them. We also recognize that for some Indigenous families, the Canadian flag may represent something else in terms of their relationship and that we are being respectful of their rights as we support reconciliation efforts. The letter home was simply designed to provide choice to students and families in the class about receiving the flag after a presentation from a member of the Lion’s Club about why we celebrate Canada Day and was in no way intended to diminish the importance of our national flag or cause harm.”
Welcome to Canada in 2022, a Dominion in which the national flag is now somehow deemed both environmentally unfriendly and politically incorrect?
We also ponder if the Durham District School Board would send out permission slips if its schools were to stage Drag Queen Storytimes? Or would that come across as being transphobic?