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An Ontario Catholic school board has ignored the Minister of Education’s letter to suspend its controversial policy that forbids students from donating to charities that support activities opposed by the church.

Trustees at the Halton Catholic District School Board voted Tuesday night to keep the policy in place while they receive feedback from students, parents and the community.

The board passed a motion in February stating it would no longer provide or facilitate financial donations to non-profits or charities that publicly support, “either directly or indirectly, abortion, contraception, sterilization, euthanasia, or embryonic stem cell research.”

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The broad nature of the motion caught many parents and students off guard, and some have since asked trustees to put their decision on hold until they consult with the community. The motion has also caused confusion among charitable organizations.

Ontario Education Minister Indira Naidoo-Harris took the unusual step of intervening last week to ask the board to pause its policy while it heard from the school community. She said she had heard complaints and concerns from a number of parents and students and was concerned that the proper process was not followed.

The board moved another motion last month that its “Sanctity of Life” resolution be sent out for feedback, but the policy remained in effect, meaning schools can’t raise funds for certain charities.

At one point, more than 30 charities and non-profits had signed a form provided by the board promising not to support certain activities in order to continue receiving donations. But there also seemed to confusion among charities over what they had agreed to, with some saying they were only stating the board’s concerns did not apply to their organizations.

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