Toronto Schools to Observe Hindu Heritage Month in November

Implementing the Hindu Heritage Month will involve interactions with community groups so a theme can be developed for November.


Canada’s largest school board, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), has adopted the motion that will recognize November as Hindu Heritage Month annually, the Hindustan Times reported.

The motion was moved before the board, said to be the third largest in North America, covering 583 schools, by its trustee Parthi Kandavel. The motion was co-sponsored by Avtar Minhas, another trustee on the board.

Born to a father of Sri Lankan origin and Indian mother, 36-year-old Kandavel backed the motion because of the desire “expressed by the community”, as per the report. Kandavel noted that an observance of the Hindu Heritage Month in schools would have “substance”. As it will be reflected in the curriculum, strategies and events at the schools.

He said that the decision carries “value and significance” because the students will have the opportunity to “celebrate, learn and educate” themselves about the religion.

Now that the motion is passed, the next step—implementation–will involve interactions with community groups so a theme can be developed for November and lesson plans and activities can be prepared accordingly. The heritage month will coincide with the Indian festival Diwali, which will enhance the celebration of the heritage month in Canada’s largest city.

Kandavel went on to say that while Hinduism is among the world’s oldest belief systems, the “unfortunate reality” is that many educationists in Canada were unaware of it and that there were reports of “students being bullied for being Hindus”. The Board oversees a student population of nearly 240,000, the HT report said.

According to Kandavel, although the month of November is already observed as Hindu Heritage Month in the Ontario province, it is “fairly symbolic” in nature. It was on Dec. 6, 2016 that the Ontario provincial assembly passed the Hindu Heritage Month bill to officially recognize November as Hindu Heritage Month in Ontario.

As the Board celebrated April as Sikh heritage month, Minhas spoke of the motion for Hindu Heritage Month which was passed before dozens of members of Hindu community in the gallery. He was quoted as saying in the report: “We want every child to grow in this city of Toronto the way their culture is, there traditions are.”

Kandavel also pointed out that the TDSB is important since it’s “practices in education and equity” tends to influence other school districts within the province and then subsequently, across the country. “They look at us for leadership and guidance,” he said, as per the report.

The schools in the districts in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) with a large population of Hindu students, have already shown interest in the Hindu Heritage Month. With 1.2 million Indo-Canadians living in the country, Ontario province has more than 700,000 Indo-Canadians, according to IANS.

January, is incidentally, Tamil heritage month in Canada. The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had celebrated Pongal with Canadian Tamils in Scarborough on Jan.17, dressed in a traditional Indian attire.

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