Canada is a country that is located on the North America continent within the Western Hemisphere. Geographically, Canada’s land borders only the United States but it is also surrounded by water borders such as the Arctic Ocean to the North, the Atlantic Ocean to the East, and the Pacific Ocean to the West. Canada ranks second with a land area of 9,984,670 sq km and thirty-sixth in population with a total of 34,300,083. (Central Intelligence Agency, 2007)
Canada’s cultural statistics consists of various ethnic and religious makeups. The ethnic population of Canada is British Isles origin 28%, French origin 23%, other European 15%, Amerindian 2%, other, mostly Asian, African, Arab 6%, and mixed background 26%. Taken from 2006 census, languages spoken is English (official) 58.8%, French (official) 21.6%, and other 19.6%. Religion diversity statistics taken from the 2001 census indicated Roman Catholic at 42.6%, Protestant at 23.3% (United Church at 9.5%, Anglican at 6.8%, Baptist at 2.4%, Lutheran at 2%), other Christian at 4.4%, Muslim at 1.9%, other and unspecified at 11.8%, and none at 16%. (Central Intelligence Agency, 2007)
The government is a parliamentary democracy, a federation, and a constitutional monarchy. Canada’s early history was “founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law. This phrase underlines the importance of religious traditions to Canadian society and the dignity and worth of the human person. The Magna Carta in 1215 in England (also known as the Great Charter of Freedoms), includes freedom of conscience and religion, freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of speech and of the press, freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom of association.” (Velshi, 2011) Canada, in cooperation with the religious sector, encourages “social welfare, harmony and mutual respect; provide schools and health care; resettle refugees; and uphold religious freedom, religious expression and freedom of conscience.” (Velshi, 2011) Unlike the United States, Canada does not have a policy that separates church from state. Canada’s government goal is to sustain religious expression in an impartial manner.
Prayer in Canada’s school has changed over the centuries. The public schools Act of 1892 allowed for the Lord’s Prayer to be recited in schools. However, it was not until much later that objections to this prayer arose. In 1993, there was a Saskatoon accusation that children’s rights from different religions were violated because of the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer. The Saskatoon school board in 2000 temporarily suspended the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer. Currently, many of Canada’s Providences do not allow the Lord’s Prayer in their schools.
Holidays in the schools are divided into national level, provinces and territories. Typical holidays at the national level are New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving Day, Remembrance Day, Christmas, and Boxing Day. However, only Good Friday and Christmas have religious origin. Holidays at the provinces and territories level are left to each province or territory to decide.
Canada does not have a pledge which would be comparable to the United States of America's Pledge of Allegiance. Nevertheless, Canada does require people who become Canadian citizens to speak an oath of citizenship during their citizenship ceremony. In the school system each day the students will pledge their loyalty to the Queen. Religious affiliation to this pledge is none.