Book ban lifted

By  Sara Loftson, The Catholic Register
  • February 23, 2007
snowcederMISSISSAUGA, Ont. - The award-winning novel Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson is back on school shelves for Catholic students in Dufferin-Peel west of Toronto.

The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board originally pulled the novel out of schools after a parent sent an anonymous letter to trustees complaining about sexually explicit passages in the novel. 

A review committee composed of trustees, parents, teachers, a religious education consultant, supervisor of library services and the superintendent of program deemed the book appropriate for school libraries and it will remain in the Grade 11 English course curriculum.

“The (review) committee had a long discussion on the merits of the book and the themes and it felt that with some resource supports and conversations with teachers we could mitigate the sensitive aspects of the book,” said Marianne Mazzorato, superintendent of program with the Dufferin-Peel Board. 

Parents of students in the course will now receive a letter explaining the value of the novel and a warning that it contains sensitive material. As well, teachers will be provided with commentary and references to Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

While Christopher Waddle, national affairs chair for PEN Canada, a not-for-profit organization that lobbies for freedom of expression, said the board jumped to conclusions by pulling the books off the shelves before the review took place, Mazzorato disagrees.

“Hindsight is 20/20. I guess that I would say that certainly everybody that read the book says there was potential offensive subject matter in the book.... parents had legitimate cause for concern.

“The book has caused us to review the process that is being used on books being put in the classrooms in the first place,” said Mazzorato, explaining the current process was designed in 1991.

“We have to ensure that we are putting (materials) through a very rigourous lens from the get go.”

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