Holiday decorations touch on sensitive matters of diversity

Holiday decorations at Humber are non-denominational but Christmas-related, like this snowman at Resource Centre.  Photo by Nick Jean Holiday decorations at Humber are non-denominational but Christmas-related, like this snowman at Resource Centre. Photo by Nick Jean

Morgan Gallagher
Queen’s Park/City Hall Reporter

While the December holiday period is a time for students to forget about assignments and relax, not all Humber College students celebrate, the dominant year-end occasion, Christmas.

While Humber Students’ Federation (HSF) says it does what it can to make sure all students feel included, it can be difficult.

Odin Von Doom, HSF vice president of student affairs at Humber North campus, said the decorations put up in the halls by HSF try to reflect the holiday season, rather than focusing on just one religious commemoration.

“One could say that makes (the decorations) non-denominational, and thus fair for everyone. But, one could also say that if there are Christmas-specific things like elves, reindeer, Santa Claus, etc, which I assume no other religions acknowledge, the content is Christmas-specific, negating the last argument.”

Taha Ali, president of the Muslim Students Association at Humber said he feels that the other Muslim students need to work together to ensure that more people are aware of their own celebrations, such as Muharram, the Islamic New Year which occurred this fall on Oct. 25.

“In my opinion, it would have been nice to see at least recognition of the holiday (Muharram). However, I don’t think the blame comes directly on Humber itself as much as it does for the Muslim students at Humber.

“I feel that if we reached out a bit more then more people would know of these celebrations and thus, there would be more public awareness of it,” said Ali.

Sumaya Farah, vice president of the Muslim Students Association feels that the school should have done more so that even the students who don’t belong to a religious club were aware of what was going on.

“I feel that Humber could have done more to help create an environment that acknowledges this celebration that Muslim students at Humber take part in, along with giving it an opportunity for non-Muslims to be aware of this holiday that Muslims celebrate,” Farah said.

As for HSF’s holiday decor, Von Doom believes the season can be a time for all to feel joyful, and the December decorations are meant to encourage that.

“Whatever the imagery or language used, and whatever qualification used to classify or describe that imagery or language, I would recommend that it simply be appreciated for the positive and celebratory spirit that it represents, and not met with negativity.”

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