Cover: Religious Diversity in Canadian Public Schools: Rethinking the Role of Law, by Dia Dabby. background: vertical yellow rectangles shaped like bar chart, set on a blue background.
304 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:01 Oct 2022
Release Date:01 Feb 2022
Release Date:01 Feb 2022
Release Date:01 Feb 2022

Religious Diversity in Canadian Public Schools

Rethinking the Role of Law

SERIES: Law and Society
UBC Press

Canadian public schools have long been entrusted with the mandate of socializing children. Yet this duty can rest uneasily alongside religious diversity questions.

Grounding its analysis in three seminal Supreme Court cases involving religion in schools, Religious Diversity in Canadian Public Schools reveals legal processes that are unduly linear, compressing multidimensional conversations into an oppositional format and stripping away the voices of children themselves. Dia Dabby contends that schools can be viewed as prisms through which to understand society. They refract how belonging is conceived, articulated, and managed. Reintroducing equality interests to a discussion often dominated by concerns about religious freedom, Dabby sees schools as microsystems worthy of their own consideration, and with the power to construct their own rules and relationships.

This compelling work connects many of the themes and issues that have animated public discourse since multiculturalism was officially enacted in Canada in the early 1980s. Situating its analysis in relation to concepts of nation, education, and diversity, Religious Diversity in Canadian Public Schools encourages a deeper conversation about how religion is mediated through public schools. Ultimately, it invites a critical reassessment of the role of law in education in Canada.

Scholars and students of law, religion, and education will find this an important work, particularly those engaged in the sociology of religion, education ethics, society studies, and connected fields. Finally, school administrators and teachers will find it a useful overview of legal regulation and human rights obligations in the educational domain.

Dabby presents a rigorous and convincing lesson to prepare and help individuals… for cases related to children and the religious diversity in Canadian schools. W. Y. Alice Chan, Centre for Civic Religious Literacy, Journal of Church and State
A worthwhile read for those interested in religious diversity in public institutions as well as those interested in critical sociological legal methodology and theory—in particular those interested in relational theory or legal pluralism. Blair Major, Assistant Professor, Thompson Rivers University Faculty of Law, Canadian Journal of Law and Society
Dia Dabby’s archival research is to be commended. In using the full court records, not just the reported decisions, she has produced an original and significant book on religion in Canadian schools. Howard Kislowicz, associate professor, Faculty of Law, University of Calgary
Religious Diversity in Canadian Public Schools touches on many of the questions that have piqued the public imaginary since multiculturalism was officially enacted in Canada in the early 1980s. Melanie Adrian, associate professor, Department of Law and Legal Studies, Carleton University

Dia Dabby is an assistant professor in the Département des sciences juridiques (Department of Legal Studies) at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM). She is an active member of the Centre de recherche interdisciplinaire sur la diversité et la démocratie (CRIDAQ) and a co-editor of Modération ou extrémisme? Regards critiques sur la loi 21. Her work has also appeared in Studies in Religion, the Supreme Court Law Review, the Canadian Journal of Law and Society, the Dalhousie Law Journal, Religion and Human Rights: An International Journal, and numerous collections.


1 Everyday Law in Schools

2 Litigation about Religion and Education: On (Un)Heard Voices

3 Mediating Religious Diversity in Public Schools

4 The Administrative Governance of Public Schools

5 Relations of Belonging in Education to Mediate Diversity


Notes; Bibliography; Index

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