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Allow Ukrainian K Program offered at three TCDSB schools to continue in its present form

This petition had 1,062 supporters


As Canadians, we are proud of the Board’s commitment to raising our children to be engaged citizens of our communities, Canada, and the world. We all support plans to create a new multi-lingual immersion school in north Scarborough. The school will give children opportunity to master French, German, Spanish and Mandarin and, to quote the Board’s Chair Del Grande, “to educate students who are ready to transform the world through innovation and action”.

Having said that, we want to address the misconception that this school will be “the first ever” multilingual school. For the last 50 years, the three Eastern Rite Ukrainian schools, St. Demetrius, Josyf Cardinal Slipyj, and St Josaphat, offered the rich curriculum rooted in the cultural and spiritual traditions of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. The key component of their program was the half-day Ukrainian immersion program offered in JK and SK grades. To quote from the St. Demetrius Catholic School website, “At the Kindergarten level, instruction in Ukrainian is currently offered for half a day. This, is in addition to French language instruction, allows our students to become trilingual graduates”. This program contributed immensely to success of the three schools, as well as to the Ukrainian Canadian community in GTA and beyond. This was truly multiculturalism at its best. It is notable that Senator Paul Yuzyk, a Ukrainian-Canadian, proposed the concept of multiculturalism in a senate speech in 1964. He criticized the Lester Pearson government for consecrating “Biculturalism” in the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, which Yuzyk said ignored the reality that Canada was in fact a “multicultural” society. For this Yuzyk is hailed as “the father of multiculturalism.”

As Eastern Rite Catholics, we always appreciated the three schools and their heritage programming, as they are integral parts of the patron parishes’ liturgical and spiritual life. Quoting St. Demetrius site again, “Students are very involved in the liturgical and cultural life of the parish as well as the church community, contributing through performance at community celebrations like Prasnyk, Vertep at Christmas, and Easter Hahilky”. Fathers of the Second Vatican Council instruct Eastern Rite faithful thus: “All members of the Eastern Rite should know and be convinced that they can and should always preserve their legitimate liturgical rite and their established way of life, and that these may not be altered except to obtain for themselves an organic improvement. All these, then, must be observed by the members of the Eastern rites themselves. Besides, they should attain to an ever greater knowledge and a more exact use of them, and, if in their regard they have fallen short owing to contingencies of times and persons, they should take steps to return to their ancestral traditions” (Decree ORIENTALIUM ECCLESIARUM).

Unfortunately, the unique heritage of St. Demetrius, Josyf Cardinal Slipyj, and St. Josaphat Catholic Schools is under threat. When the TCDSB implemented Full-Day Kindergarten Program, Ukrainian Heritage teachers were integrated into the Board as Early Childhood Educators. At the time, the school communities were left under impression that this was done in order to preserve and protect the cherished Half-Day Ukrainian Kindergarten under the new framework. However, this month the teachers were informed that they have to abandon their separate Ukrainian classrooms and assume support duties within the regular English curriculum. This will devastate the Ukrainian Kindergarten program and fatally undermine the unique mission the three schools carried for the past decades.

Ms. Gautier, we believe it is not proper to expand multi-lingual programs in a new, unproven school, while at the same time shuttering existing multi-lingual programs with long and proud tradition. Ukrainian language and culture is an organic part of Canadian fabric and in no way less important than the three languages the new school would offer. St. Demetrius, Josyf Cardinal Slipyj, and St. Josaphat Catholic schools have always been innovative, nurturing, and successful part of the TDCSB. Please, help us keep our schools thriving for the future!



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