Christmas decorations on public transit not inclusive of other celebrations, reverend says

A B.C. minister is concerned traditional Christmas decorations on a public bus aren't inclusive of the diverse religious celebrations that take place during the holidays.

Unitarian minister wants B.C. Transit to reconsider traditional Christmas decorations on Kamloops bus

Images of Santa Claus, stockings, messages of Merry Christmas, lights and garland are strung throughout one public transit bus in Kamloops. (Helen McFadyen)

A Kamloops, B.C., minister is concerned Christmas decorations on public transit are not inclusive of other religions and celebrations that take place during the holidays.

Rev. Helen McFadyen frequently takes public transit in Kamloops. When she saw traditional Christmas decorations like garlands and images of Santa hung on a bus she was riding, she was surprised.

"It made me think as I began looking at it a little more carefully, there's images of Santa Claus, typical red and green, the lights, the tinsel, the messages of Merry Christmas, that it seemed a small and narrow vision of this time of year, which is not just about Christmas," she said. 

"This seemed like a very small representation that spoke solely to Christianity and does not recognize the religious diversity in Kamloops."

McFadyen is a reverend with the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Kamloops, which welcomes people of all beliefs and faiths. 

In an email to CBC, B.C. Transit said it wants to be a good member of the community and participates in a variety of events and celebrations throughout the year, including Movember for men's health awareness, the Vaisakhi Parade in Kelowna, and holiday light tours. 

"B.C. Transit recognizes our passengers are diverse and have different beliefs, and we want to celebrate the diversity of our riders," B.C. Transit said. "If a community group has a celebration they would like transit to be part of, we encourage them to contact their local transit office. Considerations of participation include cost, resources available at that time, and if the items would impact safety on the bus."

McFadyen said she wants B.C. Transit and the public to think more critically about what belongs in public spaces, and how to include people of all demographics. 

"Can we not think about that this is a public conveyance? My taxes, your taxes pay for this public service," she said.

"As well-intentioned as it is, it does send a subtle message that [Christmas] is the only holiday."