Religious Diversity in Canadian Public Schools. Rethinking the Role of Law


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, Dia (2022). Religious Diversity in Canadian Public Schools. Rethinking the Role of Law. Vancouver, UBC Press, 304 pages.

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