Children of the opposite sex have been prohibited from swimming together at a Canadian university’s summer camp in an effort to include Syrian refugees.
The publicly funded University of Regina was initially asked by Canada’s federal government to expand their programme so as to entice refugee children to the summer project where kids can enjoy a range of activities including artwork and sports.
However, it appears the school decided to takes things one step further and segregate all males and females – a common occurrence in Islamic culture – when swimming to help include Syrians.
The University’s dean of kinesiology Harold Riemer told Sarah Mills, a reporter at Canadian radio station 650 CKOM, that this was a necessary step to include the children and he hoped people would see it as a positive move.
He added: If those opportunities weren’t presented, those children wouldn’t be participating to be blunt. I think that would be unfortunate.”
Riemer admitted that the policy may be considered divisive but hopes that it will promote the university as encouraging diversity.
He added: “When we can find a way to provide an opportunity for kids from various cultures and religious persuasions to be together and still accommodate religious values at the same time, I think that is a very positive thing. I don’t see that as a negative.”
Program coordinator and social work student Irene Barnes, who helps run a weekly day camp with the aim of educating Arabic speaking children, echoed Riemer’s views. She told Regina Leader-Post that it cannot be expected of the children to uphold traditional Canadian moral values.
“It’s really nice to learn from [the kids] and kind of approach it differently because we can’t expect them to [know Canadian societal norms] like some major Canadian principles like respecting boundaries and respecting genders.”