Can I wear my kirpan to school and in public places?

A:

In short, Yes.  

The latest case on the kirpan and one that carries with it the most weight is the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Multani v Commission scolaire Marguerite‑Bourgeoys, [2006] 1 S.C.R. 256, 2006 SCC 6 In an 8-0 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that an absolute prohibition on the kirpan could not be justified.   The Supreme Court asked not what if the kirpan is used improperly but will the kirpan be misused.  The Court noted that Gurbaj Singh “does not have behavioural problems and has never resorted to violence at school.”  The fact that the kirpan had never been used as a weapon in any school was also persuasive to the court.  

 The Court further disagrees with the assertion that the kirpan is a weapon and states that an argument to that effect is “contradicted by the evidence regarding the symbolic nature of the kirpan, it is also disrespectful to believers in the Sikh religion and does not take into account Canadian values based on multiculturalism.”

The Court found that the absolute prohibition was not minimally impairing as it did not attempt any accommodation.  Although failure at minimal impairment would be enough to render the decision void, the Court proceeds with the Oakes analysis and finds that the deleterious effects of the policy far outweighed the benefits.  The kirpan restriction “would stifle the promotion of values such as multiculturalism, diversity, and the development of an educational culture respectful of the rights of others.”   

 

 

 


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