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Elementary School Cancels Mother’s and Father’s Day Events for a Heartbreaking Reason

With Mother’s Day fast approaching, kids in elementary schools everywhere are drowning in glitter and dried macaroni as they craft adorable cards and small handmade tokens of love to show Mom their appreciation. But that won’t be the case for kids at one Canadian elementary school, where all Mother’s and Father’s Day-related crafts and activities have officially been canceled.

It happened last week, when students at Albert McMahon Elementary School in Mission, British Columbia were sent home with a letter announcing the cancellation. The note was later shared on Facebook by Roy Glebe, the father of a student at the school, and it has since gone viral.

“As Mother’s Day and Father’s Day approach we have met as a Primary (Grade 1 and 2) team to discuss our core values,” the letter reads. “In an effort to celebrate diversity, inclusivity and also nurture our students who are part of non-traditional families, we have decided to encourage those celebrations to take place at home. Due to this, the children will not be making gifts at school to give on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. We feel each family knows the best way to celebrate with their own family.”

The school’s superintendent, Angus Wilson, tells Babble that, “To the best of my knowledge, kids and most of the parents in the school community are fine with it.” The Internet, however, has not been. “It is very interesting to note most of the reaction (negative and otherwise) came from outside of British Columbia,” Wilson added.

And he’s not kidding — parents online have reacted pretty strongly to the news.

“Had to post this,” shared Glebe. “I think disappointed is an understatement. This will be the first year that we don’t get gifts crafted with love from our kids, and since we only have one little one now it makes it all that much worse. I don’t understand why we, as Canadians, need to give up our traditions that have been passed through generations. I welcome all races and ethnicities, but forcing us to give up things that are important to us as Canadians is crap. And it doesn’t even have anything to do with religion? You can’t celebrate your Mom and Dad?”

Glebe’s post provoked many reactions from other parents, too, with many sharing their outrage about Canadian traditions being stripped away and others questioning why inclusivity can’t mean expanding upon the meaning of Mother’s Day.

“Teachers could embrace the diversity and have the children make a craft for their caregiver why take away all the things that make kids happy and smile,” wrote one Facebook user named Cassie. “Just celebrate that you are loved and cared for. Have students make something for their caregiver it does not have to be mom or dad. That is just so stupid. Non-traditional families, what is that?”

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day have traditionally been about children showing gratitude, love, and appreciation for their parents. In this new more inclusive era when the word “family” means more than one mother and one father and 2.5 kids, it makes sense to consider new ways to celebrate families, which is what the crux of the online backlash has been about.

However, since the story first went viral, news has also surfaced as to the true reason behind the cancelation — and it’s one that certainly colors the story in a different way. As Glebe shared with Babble Wednesday, parents were later informed that a student’s parent had recently passed away, hence the sensitivity surrounding any Mother’s Day or Father’s Day festivities.

While it may be all too easy to jump to conclusions when first hearing that Mother’s Day was canceled — particularly in our fast-paced, viral news-driven culture — in the end, it seems the real story here is about how one community is trying, in any way it can, to help an elementary schooler through a very difficult time.

And I think that’s something we can all get behind.

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