Minister wants all schools to play O Canada every day.

Education Minister Judy Streatch wants all school boards in the province to develop policies requiring the playing of O Canada in schools daily.

Streatch recently wrote to the boards noting that while the practice of singing the national anthem is well-established in Nova Scotia schools, there are only two boards with written policies — the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board and Conseil Scolaire Acadian provincial, which is the province’s Acadian school board.

“I am requesting that all boards in the province develop a written policy requiring the singing of the national anthem in Nova Scotia schools on a daily basis and at special events in schools throughout your respective jurisdictions,” she wrote to the boards.

The minister’s move came soon after controversy erupted in New Brunswick. Erik Millett, principal of Belleisle elementary school, about 30 kilometres west of Fredericton, incurred the wrath of angry calls and emails after a group of parents complained that O Canada wasn’t being played before classes.

Millett had moved the anthem to monthly assemblies in 2007, and was quoted in a newspaper article as saying that using the anthem at the assemblies would give it more prominence and importance.

He has since left his position as principal and taken another position within the district.

Attached to Streatch’s letter is a copy of the Cape Breton-Victoria board’s written policy regarding flags and the anthem in schools. It requires schools to display the provincial and national flags, with the Canadian flag to be flown from the school’s flag mast and notes it should also be displayed within or near the main entrance.

Elementary students are to be taught annually the lyrics and meaning of O Canada and given an explanation of the significance of the national flag. Secondary students are to receive the same instruction, as considered necessary by staff.

Students can be exempted with a valid written request from a parent or guardian. They can either leave the room or stay and not participate.

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