From today’s Globe and Mail …
A holiday by many other names
Schools embracing opportunity for ‘a celebration of
everything,’ANTHONY REINHART writes
Fashionable as it might be to acknowledge all cultures, Ms. Hoshizaki
said there’s far more going on in her school, and others across the
Greater Toronto Area, than meets the eye.
“It’s not just having the different symbols of the different
religions,” she said. “It’s actually going deeper and embracing the
Which is exactly what went on in Nadia Remtulla’s Grade 1 classroom
“We’re using dreidels [spinning tops used in games during Hanukkah]
and estimating how many times it’s going to land on each side,” Ms.
Remtulla, in her first year as a teacher, said as she sat on the
floor, surrounded by her pupils.
An Ismaili Muslim, she is only 24, but can easily recall how different
her own Grade 1 experience was in Markham.
“I grew up in a predominantly white area,” Ms. Remtulla said, adding
that she was the sole non-white child in her class and that
Judeo-Christian holidays were the only ones mentioned at school.
As she prepared to show her class how to apply henna to their hands in
commemoration of the Muslim holiday Eid ul-Adha, which falls on Dec.
31 this year, the teacher retrieved another memory.
“If I came to school with henna on my hands, I had to pretend it was
marker,” she said, “because I didn’t want to explain it.” (Henna is a
reddish-orange dye made from a plant of the same name.) For the Eid
celebration this week, however, Ms. Remtulla sent permission slips
home and received only positive responses from parents.
“I think they’re very accepting,” she said, “and they’re also thankful
in a way” that their children are encouraged to bring their festive
traditions to school. Had her own Grade 1 experience been like the one
her students are having now, “I think I would be more open to the
world,” Ms. Remtulla said.