News - 2017

Winter 2017 Catholic Dimension

The Catholic Dimension is a newspaper published twice annually by the Alberta Catholic School Trustees' Association. It highlights current issues in Catholic education in Alberta, the Northwest Territories and Yukon, as well as events in our Catholic schools.
Highlights of this issue include:

We hope you will enjoy the winter 2017 issue of The Catholic Dimension. Inside you will find:

• An article about the election of our new Vice President, Paul M. Bourassa
• ACSTA 2017 AGM & Convention Highlights and awards
• An article on the trustee luncheon with the Minister of Education
• Updates from our President, Adriana LaGrange, and Executive Director, Dean Sarnecki
• An article from our legal counsel, Dentons Canada LLP
• Submissions from Christ the Redeemer, St Thomas Aquinas Catholic, Calgary Catholic, and Elk Island Catholic
• Catholic Education Sunday Supplementary letter from the Bishops
• A submission from the Archdiocese of Edmonton on their new news portal, Grandin Media
• Toonies for Tuition logo design and poster contest
• A submission from Development & Peace Western region on the Curricular Resources Development Workshop 2017

Please feel free to share Catholic Dimension with everyone in your community.

Winter 2017 Catholic Dimension

2017-12-06 3:30PM
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ACSTA and Trinity Western University

The Alberta Catholic Schools Trustees’ Association (ACSTA) has filed to be an intervener in support of the National Coalition of Catholic School Trustees' Associations' (the "Coalition”) in regards to intervene in the appeals filed by the Trinity Western University and Brayden Volkenant (SCC File No. 37209 and Law Society of British Columbia (SCC File No. 37318). The National Catholic Trustee Coalition was formed for the specific purpose of intervening in the above-noted appeal and includes the ACSTA; Ontario Catholic School Trustees' Association; Saskatchewan Catholic School Boards Association; and Canadian Catholic School Trustees Association.

The ACSTA is involved as an intervener with the coalition as an organization charged with the responsibility to ensure that the rights and privileges with respect to Catholic separate schools are protected. The ACSTA’s perspective on the matter will be unique as it operates in a very different context than TWU, which is a private evangelical Christian post-secondary institution. The ACSTA’s position is neutral and is not supporting either side. The ACSTA is intervening to ensure our voice is heard in protecting and maintaining the rights afforded Catholic education across the country which is the role of the trustees in protecting Catholic education rights.

The determinations of the Court on these issues will almost certainly have a significant impact on the way in which the Coalition, the school boards, and the trustees and its members, represent and conduct themselves in educating youth in faith. ACSTA believes that we need to be dynamically involved in protecting our rights. The best way to do this is to be active and able to present our views and perspectives so they are heard in our role as an intervener in the case.

Please click here for the Factum of the ("Coalition”).

Questions? Contact ACSTA at (780) 484-6209 or by email at

2017-11-29 11:05AM
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ACSTA Welcomes New Vice President

Edmonton AB – At its Annual General Meeting this past weekend, the Alberta Catholic School Trustees’ Association (ACSTA) elected Paul M. Bourassa, Catholic trustee from Conseil scolaire FrancoSud, as its new Vice President. Adriana LaGrange from Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools was acclaimed as ACSTA President. Both terms are for a one-year period.

The ACSTA would like to thank John Tomkinson for his hard work, commitment, and faithful dedication to Catholic education as a trustee for St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Regional School Division over the past many years, and for his service as ACSTA Vice President for the past two years.

Paul M. Bourassa has been a Catholic trustee for Conseil scolaire FrancoSud since 2012. He has served on the ACSTA Board of Directors in the past, and is pleased with his election as the new ACSTA Vice President.

“A few different trustees asked if it was something about which I had thought, I honestly had not,” said Paul. “Nonetheless, with encouragement from people whose opinion I respected and trusted, including my wife, I felt it was the right thing to do. I think I can provide a unique viewpoint given that I am trained as a lawyer as opposed to a teacher.”

ACSTA President Adriana LaGrange is very pleased to introduce Paul M. Bourassa as our newest executive team member.

“On behalf of all of ACSTA, I congratulate and welcome Paul to the position of ACSTA Vice President. I thank Paul for answering the call to serve and share his many gifts and talents. Paul is truly dedicated to and passionate about Catholic Education.”

Paul is a Federal Crown Prosecutor with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada and is currently on a one-year sabbatical. He recently took a contract with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, doing work in Zimbabwe. He travels there every few months. Paul was born and raised in Regina and moved to Calgary at the age of 14, attending Calgary Catholic schools. He resides in Calgary with his wife Kelly and their three daughters.


Edmonton (Alberta) – Lors de son assemblée générale annuelle qui a eu lieu le weekend dernier, la Alberta Catholic School Trustees’ Association (ACSTA) a élu Paul M. Bourassa, conseiller scolaire catholique du Conseil scolaire FrancoSud, au poste de vice-président de l’association. Adriana LaGrange, conseillère scolaire des Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools, a été, quant à elle, élue présidente de ACSTA. La durée du mandat de chacun de ces postes est d’un an.

ACSTA aimerait prendre l’occasion pour remercier John Tomkinson de son travail acharné, de son engagement et du dévouement dont il a fait preuve envers l’éducation catholique au cours des dernières années alors qu’il était conseiller scolaire de la St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Regional School Division. Nous le remercions également d’avoir été le vice-président de ACSTA pendant les deux dernières années.

Depuis 2012, Paul M. Bourassa siège au Conseil scolaire FrancoSud comme conseiller scolaire catholique. Il avait déjà siégé au conseil d’administration de l’ACSTA et il est heureux d’avoir été élu vice-président de l’association.

« Des conseillers scolaires m’ont demandé si c’était quelque chose à laquelle j’avais pensé, mais honnêtement je n’avais pas vraiment réfléchi à ça avant, a déclaré Paul. Néanmoins, avec les encouragements de personnes dont je respecte l’opinion et en qui j’ai confiance, dont mon épouse, j’ai estimé que c’était la bonne chose à faire. Étant donné que j’ai étudié en droit plutôt qu’en éducation, je pense que je peux donner un point de vue différent et unique. »

La présidente de ACSTA, Adriana LaGrange, est également très heureuse d’accueillir Paul M. Bourassa à titre de nouveau membre du comité exécutif de l’association.

« Au nom de tous les membres de ACSTA, je souhaite la bienvenue à Paul et le féliciter de son élection au poste de vice-président de ACSTA. Je tiens à remercier Paul d’avoir répondu à l’appel de servir et de partager ses nombreux dons et talents avec nous. Paul est une personne très dévouée et passionnée par l’éducation catholique. »

Paul travaille comme procureur fédéral auprès du Service des poursuites pénales du Canada. Présentement en congé sabbatique d’un an, il a accepté récemment une offre de contrat de l’Office des Nations Unies contre la drogue et le crime pour travailler au Zimbabwe. Ainsi, il se rend là-bas tous les deux ou trois mois. Paul est né et a grandi à Regina. Puis, à l’âge de 14 ans, il a déménagé à Calgary où il a étudié dans des écoles catholiques. Aujourd’hui, il réside toujours à Calgary avec sa femme Kelly et leurs trois filles.

#205, 9940 - 106 St Edmonton, AB T5K 2N2
(780) 484-6209 or by email at

PDF Version of Release English

PDF Version of Release French

2017-11-22 1:33PM
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Bill 28

ACSTA Message in regards to Bill 28

"We welcome Bill 28 and the efforts made by the government to update and clarify important tenets of education policy. In particular, we support the Bill’s proposal for modernizing the process for forming separate school districts, and we look forward to welcoming the Minister to our AGM this weekend."

ACSTA President Adriana LaGrange

2017-11-16 1:30PM
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Press Release

The Alberta Catholic School Trustees’ Association (ACSTA) believes that the overall goal of Bill 24 in protecting vulnerable students is commendable and we are in full support of a welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment. However, after careful consultation, we believe there are two areas of Bill 24 which could have unintended consequences and require clarification. They are: 1) Erosion of Local School Board Autonomy 2) Parent - School Relationship

Please see the press release for full details.

ACSTA and Bill 24

ACSTA and Bill 24 - French

2017-11-13 1:42PM
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Welcome New Catholic Trustees

The Alberta Catholic School Trustees' Association wants to welcome its new trustees as well as those who were acclaimed/re-elected!  First time Catholic trustees are encouraged and welcome to attend our new trustee orientation session from 9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. on Friday, November 17 in the Turner Valley Room of The Westin Edmonton. The session features presentations from Archbishop Smith on the dual mandate of the Catholic trustee , Bishop Henry on Catholic education and the role of the Catholic trustee, and information about ACSTA. We recommend that you bring an experienced colleague with you.

2017 ACSTA Member Trustees - Alberta Municipal Election Results

Below are the links to register as well as the program.

Register      Program

2017-10-20 11:23AM
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Catholic Education Sunday 2017

Celebrate Catholic Education Sunday 2017

Archbishop Richard Smith on Alberta’s Catholic Education - See this link to the supplementary letter in video form:

Please join us and the Catholic Bishops of Alberta and the Northwest Territories in celebrating Catholic Education Sunday on November 5, 2017. This Sunday is a day for rejoicing in the gifts of our Catholic Schools.

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Phil 4:8).

Catholic education takes its lead from Jesus Himself: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” (Mt 28.19-20) Simply, this means announcing the Good News of Jesus Christ and helping one another to become His disciples.

2017 Catholic Education Sunday Bishop's Letter - English

2017 Catholic Education Sunday Bishop's Letter - French



2017 Catholic Education Sunday Resource (English)

2017 Catholic Education Sunday Resource (French)

2017-10-12 12:09PM
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Pastoral Letter - The Ministry of Catholic School Trustee

Alberta/NWT Bishops Pastoral Letter Regarding Catholic School Trustee Elections

Alberta municipal elections take place on October 16. The Alberta and Northwest Territories Bishops wrote a letter which reflects on the ministry of a Catholic school trustee. The Bishops strongly encourage all Catholics to participate in the election. In the letter, they go over some electoral considerations which are designed to help voters choose, in their own discernment, which candidate is the most appropriate for the office of school trustee. Below you will find a link to the letter in English and French.

English          French

2017-09-25 8:38AM
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2017 Trustee Election

Trustee Election Guidebook

Alberta Municipal Elections are on October 16, 2017! Trustee Nomination date has now passed.

Are you called to this vocation? Are you considering running to be a Catholic School Trustee?

The ACSTA is pleased to release our Catholic School Trustee 2017 Election Guidebook. This  booklet contains all the information one needs if they are thinking of running for trustee.

This booklet is meant to explore the unique place that Catholic schools have in Alberta. In addition, it will define the role of the Catholic school trustee and inform Catholic school electors of their unique role in the Catholic partnership between school, home, and parish. This booklet is intended only as an introduction and guide. For additional information, please contact your local Catholic school board, Alberta Education, the Alberta Catholic School Trustees’ Association, or the Alberta School Boards Association.

What does a Catholic School Trustee Do?

  • As Catholic trustees, Catholic education is entrusted to us. We must hold within ourselves a deeper understanding of and commitment to the nature of Catholic education.
  • As Catholic trustees, we ensure that the essence of Catholic education, formed through partnership of home, school and parish, is recognized and supported in the political arena.
  • As Catholic trustees, we ensure the support and encouragement of our teachers and school staff by providing them with opportunities for faith formation
  • As Catholic trustees, we ensure that our educational leaders are able to examine their unique role in shaping the faith life of their school.
  • As Catholic trustees, we ensure that our students are seen as individuals and given the chance to study in a learning environment permeated by Gospel values and sacramental life.
  • As Catholic trustees, we are evangelizers of the good news of Christ in all aspects of our lives.
  • As Catholic trustees, we are stewards of our Catholic faith; with care, we tend to it in our own lives and we foster it in the lives of all whom we encounter
  • Catholic school trusteeship is a unique vocation which serves the Church and the community. The Catholic school trustee plays an integral part in ensuring that Christ is the heart and soul of every Catholic school. The uniqueness of Catholic education lies in the fact that its purpose and end is holiness.

For more information on Catholic schools in Alberta, Northwest Territories, and Yukon, please contact the Alberta Catholic School Trustees’ Association or your local Catholic school board.

2017-05-18 11:26AM
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Information Session for Prospective Catholic Trustee Candidates

The ACSTA, together with the Alberta Bishops, will be holding Catholic Trustee information sessions for prospective candidates in each Alberta diocese this May and June.  Information sessions will be about 2 hours in length and will include a presentation by ACSTA elected officials, administration and the local bishop. 
If you are thinking about becoming a Catholic School Trustee, the information sessions are a great way to learn more about the role of trustee, the uniqueness of the Catholic trustee and the relationship with the local Bishop, as well as answer any questions you may have and point to resources available. 
Dates for the events are as follows:
May 11 - Edmonton - St. Brendan School - 7 PM – With Archbishop Smith
May 25 - Fort McMurray - St. Paul’s Catholic Church - 7 PM – With Bishop Terrio
June 7 - Grande Prairie - St. Joseph's Catholic Church -7 PM – With Archbishop Pettipas
June 8 - Calgary - Prince of Peace School - 7PM – With Bishop McGrattan
We want to emphasise that the information sessions in no way  support a particular candidate or affiliation, and are not being held to provide a means of debate among candidates. This is not a forum for candidates to speak, this is for the education of potential trustees and to explain the process. 
Should you have any questions please contact the ACSTA office at 780-484-6209 or email at
Please feel free to share the information poster for the trustee information sessions.
2017-04-26 3:25PM
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Catholic Education: Confronting Fiction with Facts

Catholic Education: Confronting Fiction with Facts

In the past few weeks there have been questions asked about publicly-funded Catholic Education in Alberta. As President of the Alberta Catholic School Trustees’ Association, I would like to offer the following information for clarification:

Fiction:  It has been suggested that eliminating Catholic Education in Alberta would be easy.
Fact: Catholic Education has been operating in Alberta since the 1840’s and has held a longstanding, distinct role in Alberta’s public education system for all of these years. Itis enshrined in the Constitution of Canada, Section 93, solidified in the Alberta Act 1905 and further supported by the Alberta School Act. Alberta Education is currently ranked 5th in the world overall in the area of Education and Skills (per the Conference Board of Canada) and Catholic Education in Alberta is proud to be an integral part of this success story.

Fiction: Amalgamating Catholic and Public Schools would lead to substantial savings of taxpayer money.
Fact:  Catholic Education in Alberta serves over 175,000 students (approx. 30 per cent of all Alberta Students) in over 430 schools.  The only way to save taxpayer money would be if all 175,000 students simply stop having access to education altogether. There has been no study that has indicated any money would be saved by eliminating Catholic Schools: the same number of students, educated by the same number of staff, driven to school by the same number of busses, maintained in the same number of schools (which the province is currently short of) would be needed. In fact, studies done on the amalgamation of municipalities, health authorities, and schools in other provinces have seen the administration cost increase considerably due to the effects of amalgamation. 
Fiction: Catholic School Boards never work together with Public School Boards.
Fact: The vast majority of Catholic Separate School Boards and Public School Boards do work together collaboratively to actualize efficiencies while respecting each other’s differences, through shared bussing, Joint Use Agreements, Joint Purchasing Partnerships for Utilities and other examples. There are even several successful archetypes of shared facilities whereby Catholic and Public Schools operate independent schools in different wings of a building complex with a joint use space in the middle (often a public recreation center or public library.)

Fiction: Catholic Education is overly influenced by the church.
Fact:  Catholic Education is a unique partnership between the school, home and parish.  Together this partnership is a close relationship between the faith community and the Church, through locally elected trustee representatives who independently create policy and govern their Boards.  It seeks to develop a student’s whole person by integrating academic excellence permeated in faith.  The central focus of Catholic Education is Jesus Christ.

Fiction: Only Catholics can go to Catholic schools.
Fact:  Catholic Schools are open to all students and families that choose a fully Catholic Christian faith based education experience.  As per the Alberta School Act Catholic schools must accept all Resident Students (of the same faith) and if there is space and programs must accept Non-Resident students.

Fiction: Catholic schools are public schools with a crucifix on the wall and a religion class.
Fact:  Catholic Schools are distinctive faith communities that nurture the spiritual, academic, emotional and physical wellbeing of students through the integration of the Alberta Education curriculum with gospel values and a sacramental life.  Christ is the center of the Catholic School and his presence and teaching permeate the whole of the school day and the whole of the school building.

Fiction: Catholic schools teach intolerance and hate towards some groups.
Fact:  Catholic Education is inclusive of all students and strives to have all children recognize their inherent beauty as children of God.  Children are encouraged to see themselves as more than the sum of their parts; more than their race, religion, ability, gender, colour, sexual orientation, etc.   This inclusiveness and moral imperative is supported by safe and welcoming school board policies & strong anti-bullying policies.

Fiction: Catholic schools do not teach about sexuality and wellness.
Fact:  Catholic Schools teach comprehensive provincially mandated Health and Wellness Programs which are age appropriate.  Programs on sexuality do include abstinence, a transcendent view of the person, and are taught from a Catholic worldview. The goal is to provide students with the information to make good and responsible choices.

Fiction: Public schools subsidize Separate schools.
Fact: There are two distinct constitutional rights regarding taxation:  the right to access the property assessment base for financial support and the right to equity and fairness in funding.  Catholic Education is funded through education property taxes, grants and general provincial revenue, exactly the same as public schools. Funds for schools in Alberta are pooled provincially and then distributed to schools based on enrolment numbers. The pooling of funds allows for a balanced approach to allow resources to go where parents choose to send their children to school. Each Alberta student carries funding into the education system of their choice.

Maintaining the current taxation base is a vital connection between school boards and their electors, especially those electors without children in the school system. It provides a mechanism for direct accountability of school board trustees to their electors for the quality of education provided. It provides a clear link between taxation and representation, the most fundamental principal of any democratically elected organization  and it further creates a structural interest in the local school board, because of the investment required by the electors in that board.
In closing, I would like to stress that Catholic Education in Alberta has and will continue its proud legacy of cost-effective excellence in teaching within a welcoming, safe and caring faith school environment, honouring the sacred trust of our parents and of our community.

Adriana LaGrange
President, Alberta Catholic School Trustees’ Association
2017-04-04 2:41PM
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Choosing Catholic Education in Alberta

February 7, 2017

Alberta’s Catholic Schools have always been places where our Catholic faith plays a vital role in the learning development of our students. The Alberta Catholic School Trustees' Association (ACSTA) would like to offer the points below to clarify that Catholic schools in Alberta are not just another school system, or substitute offering, but rather are schools with a Catholic centered view which permeates the whole learning experience.

  • Catholicism and Catholic education is not an alternative program offered in a secular school but a worldview, encompassing a Christian perspective, imbued with the Spirit, taught by faith witnesses who are more than teachers but sacraments to God’s grace, and Catholicism is permeated throughout the curriculum, as well as school life in general, be it through sports or extracurricular activities.
  • As per the School Act, section 21 (RSA 2000 Chapter S-3) Catholic Education is not and cannot be defined as an Alternative Program: Offering An Alternative Program (as per Alberta Education – Alternative Programs Handbook 2010

Definition.... School Act, section 21 (RSA 2000 Chapter S-3)

21 (1) b. “that is not a special education program, a program referred to in section 10 or religious education offered by a separate school board”

  • We have Catholic schools that serve Alberta and those choosing a Catholic permeated education. We believe Catholic religion courses belong in fully permeated Catholic schools.


The ACSTA represents 24 Divisions with Catholics schools and approximately 153 trustees, who in turn serve more than 170,000 students.

For more information or media inquiries, please contact us at:

#205 9940 - 106 St
Edmonton, AB
T5K 2N2

(780) 484-6209 or by email at

2017-02-07 2:58PM
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