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School board under fire for ending support of charities that don't align with Catholic 'values'

Last Updated Feb 26, 2018 at 7:21 pm EDT

A group of Halton Catholic District School Board (HCDSB) students are fighting back after the board passed a motion to stop supporting charities or organizations that don’t align with Catholic values that oppose abortion, euthanasia and embryo research.

The motion, which passed in January and was upheld on February 20th reads: “…that the Halton Catholic District School Board (HCDSB), because it is a Catholic Institution, will not provide or facilitate any financial donations to any charities or non-profits that publicly support, either directly or indirectly, abortion, contraception, sterilization, euthanasia, or embryonic stem cell research.”

The motion passed by a vote of 5-3.

But a group of students has created a petition to repeal or amend the motion. It has over 8,500 signatures.

“This means that with this motion schools are NO LONGER to permit or facilitate charities or donations related to: CANADIAN CANCER SOCIETY (RELAY FOR LIFE), ME TO WE, SICKKIDS, ALS SOCIETY OF CANADA, UNICEF, HEART AND STROKE FOUNDATION OF CANADA, TERRY FOX FUN, and many others,” the petition reads.

“These are charities that do wonders for our communities and enhance health, equity, and social justice. Please sign this petition to show support and to repeal this motion. USE YOUR VOICE!”

The students say they will be meeting with the Board on March 20 to present the signatures and have their collective voice heard.

In an email to CityNews, board chair Diana Rabenda said trustees would be reviewing the school’s fundraising policy in hopes of finding a balance between Catholic values and charitable work.

“As a Catholic school board, we remain committed to embracing the values of collective responsibility and the common good,” she said. “We will continue to encourage our schools to participate in fundraising efforts in accordance with our policy.”

Rabenda wouldn’t confirm which charities or organizations would lose the board’s support.

“The list is currently being reviewed in light of this motion to determine which will not be permitted,” she added.

In the meantime, many expressed their anger with the board’s decision in the comments section of the online petition.

“We are taught that we should always provide aide to those in need, no matter their religion, gender, socioeconomic class, race etc,” wrote Maliya C. “It should not matter whether we have the same values or morals as these charities, but that these charities are helping those in need and benefiting the poor and the vulnerable.”

“Many of these charities are near and dear to my heart and I think the restriction is ridiculous!” added Laurie H. “We should be encouraging our youth to rally rise above give of themselves in support of charities and those in need. Not restricting their efforts and deflating them.”