Kirpan to be accommodated at Canadian missions across the world

OTHERS KIRPAN 1THE World Sikh Organization of Canada on Monday announced the release of accommodation guidelines for the kirpan in Canadian embassies and consulates across the world.

The Indo-Canadian Voice had reported last week that this announcement was to be made by Tim Uppal, Minister of State (Multiculturalism), on behalf of Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird at the Khalsa Community School in Brampton, Ontario. Parm Gill, MP for Brampton-Springdale, was also present.

The WSO said it worked with the Government of Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development to develop these guidelines.

OTHERS KIRPAN 2The kirpan is an important article of faith worn by amritdhari or initiated Sikhs which represents spiritual wisdom and the duty to stand against injustice.

Sikhs will be permitted to wear the kirpan in Canadian missions based on the following guidelines:

* their kirpan is secured within a sheath, attached to a fabric belt, worn across the torso and under clothing prior to entering the mission premises, and

* they are in possession of the four other Sikh articles of faith (an attestation on the part of the visitor is acceptable for those articles that are not normally visible).

The accommodation policy for Canadian missions follows recent accommodation policies for the kirpan in courthouses in Toronto, Alberta and British Columbia which WSO helped to create.  The kirpan is also accommodated at the Parliament of Canada and the Supreme Court of Canada.

WSO President Dr. Amritpal Singh Shergill said, “We are very thankful to Prime Minister [Stephen] Harper’s government for recognizing the importance of accommodating this article of our faith.  The accommodation of the kirpan in Canadian missions is a welcome move and a matter of pride for Canadian Sikhs. Anywhere across the world, Sikhs who wear the kirpan can go to a Canadian mission without fear of being turned away.  Accommodation of the kirpan is integral to showing respect to the Sikh community, its faith and practices.”

Monday’s announcement is particularly significant as it coincides with Vaisakhi, the birth of the Order of the Khalsa in 1699, the day initiated Sikhs were enjoined to wear five distinct articles of faith, including the kirpan.

WSO legal counsel Balpreet Singh said, “Canada is a leader in human rights and a model of how diversity and religious freedom can be celebrated.  The accommodation of the kirpan in Canadian missions sends a strong message that the Government of Canada is committed to upholding the values of equality and respect that we hold dear as Canadians.”