The Red Deer Regional Catholic Schools defended a field trip that sent four buses of students to an anti-abortion demonstration in Edmonton.
Students from Notre Dame and St. Joe’s High School attended the March for Life, held in Edmonton on Thursday.
Board chair Anne Marie Watson said this is not the first time students from the district’s schools have attended the March for Life.
“We’re trying to educate our students to be socially aware and involved,” said Watson. “This includes encouraging and supporting students to be socially active in causes and events that matter to them. They requested to go and parents supported that and we paid for them to go.”
Watson said because it is a field trip, the school pays for students to go with parental permission.
In a statement, education minister David Eggen said it was not a good use of student time.
“I don’t believe protesting women’s fundamental rights is a good use of student time. Nor do I think it’s the best use of school resources — which should be directed to the classroom as much as possible,” he said.
Watson said the minister does recognize decisions around field trips are the responsibility of local boards and schools.
“The minister hasn’t contacted us with any concerns, he gave a statement to the media,” said Watson. “This is, as the minister recognizes, our responsibility.”
Watson added that if Eggen were concerned about students attending March for Life, then he should also be concerned about students attending other schools attending extra-curricular events in the category of social justice. She pointed to events such as WE Day and Alberta’s gay-straight alliance conferences that occur twice a year.
“This is in the same category and I’ve never heard the minister make comments about students attending those types of events,” said Watson.