Brampton, Canada: We wish all of you a joyous Vaisakhi! To mark the birth of the Khalsa, a ceremony was held today at Brampton’s Khalsa Community School where the Government of Canada and the World Sikh Organization of Canada announced the implementation of a policy accommodating the wearing of kirpan in Canadian missions (consulates and embassies) around the world. The announcement was made by Minister of State Tim Uppal and WSO’s legal counsel Balpreet Singh.
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 at the Supreme Court of Canada:
Last month the World Sikh Organization of Canada presented oral arguments at the Supreme Court of Canada in the landmark case of Loyola High School, et al. v. Attorney General of Quebec. This case deals with the right of a Catholic school to teach the Christianity portion of the mandatory Ethics and Religious Culture (ERC) curriculum, from a faith-based perspective.
The WSO was granted intervener status in the case by the Supreme Court of Canada on January 16, 2014 to present arguments on the question of whether religious freedoms for a collective/corporate body are protected under the Canadian and the Quebec charters.
On Monday March 24, the Loyola appeal was heard by the Supreme Court of Canada and WSO General Legal Counsel Palbinder Kaur Shergill presented oral arguments on behalf of the organization. The WSO was the only non-Christian group to be granted intervener status in the Loyola case. This was the third time the WSO has appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada and the second time in a case involving a non-Sikh appellant. In 2004, WSO intervened in Syndicat Northcrest v. Amselem, on behalf of the Jewish community`s rights to religious freedom, and in 2005, WSO intervened in Multani v. Commission scolaire Marguerite‑Bourgeoys with respect to the right of a Sikh student to wear his kirpan at school.