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Sask. school's move to change Halloween to 'harvest celebration' gets mixed reviews

Yorkton, Sask. -

Reactions were mixed following an announcement that students at Canora Junior Elementary School would not be sporting spooky costumes but celebrating harvest on Oct. 31st.

Around a week before Halloween, families were informed of the change. The “Celebration of Harvest Day” included various educational activities and promoted “an inclusive and engaging family event.”

Students were encouraged to dress up in fall colours, or as farmers.

“The last couple of years they’ve noticed, at the local level, fewer and fewer students participating in Halloween,” said Quintin Robertson, Director of Education and CEO for the Good Spirit School Division.

In addition to being more inclusive, the event was also meant to provide a learning opportunity for students about the work that goes into harvest and farming all year around.

“The kids come in, they take part in our fun activities, they play games, they have an educational experience,” Chair of Student Community Council at Canora Junior Rox Roberts told CTV News.

“From today, I hope kids have a fun afternoon and they can just walk feeling like they were included. It doesn’t matter if they had a costume or didn’t have a costume, everyone came here the same,” he added.

Although the event had good intentions, many parents in the community felt that the celebration of harvest on Oct. 31 was not fair to kids who were looking forward to wearing their Halloween costumes at school.

“I’ve never been more stressed about Halloween in my life before,” parent Garrett Keyowski explained.

“You’re trying to explain this to a nine year-old that has an older sibling in a different school where Halloween is going on as usual. You’ve got the older kids who are doing it and you’re talking to parents from other schools, in the same district, where Halloween is going on as usual.”

“It’s our school that’s the anomaly.”

The decision to not celebrate Halloween at the school was made locally, and not by the GSSD.

Candace Smith was one of the many parents who were disappointed about the decision.

She wishes parents were informed sooner so they could include their opinion on the matter.

“I don’t want it to feel like we don’t understand the financial burden it may put on people, especially right now with things being so expensive,” she explained. “But, there wasn’t even that option for people to come together and think of a solution for the financial issues, costume donations, ideas for homemade costumes.”

Smith said if parents were informed sooner that other families could not afford Halloween costumes for their children, then parents in the community, such as herself, were willing to donate.

This was the first year the school held the harvest themed event.

Robertson said the school is hoping to gain feedback from parents to help prepare for future occasions.

“The school is hoping to have more parental engagement and more active participation,” he said.

“What they found before is they would do the traditional costume march and then students would go into their classrooms to watch movies and then they would go home. There really wasn’t a lot of learning or engagement happening, and I know today will be a very engaging activity that will bring families into the school.” Top Stories

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