WSO Testifies on Online Hate at Justice Committee

Ottawa (May 3, 2019):  World Sikh Organization of Canada President, Mukhbir Singh testified yesterday before the House of Commons Justice Committee on the issue of online hate.   The WSO called on the government to play its role in countering the proliferation of online hate.

Following a sharp rise in police-reported hate crimes between 2016 and 2017 many organizations, including the World Sikh Organization of Canada had called on the Government of Canada to create a strategy to counter online hatred. 

In his testimony on Thursday, Mukhbir Singh acknowledged that “unfortunately, instances of hatred and violence are not new for the Sikh community… minority status combined with an outward identity which is intended to stand out has often made Sikhs a target by those motivated by hate and intolerance.”

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WSO Welcomes Royal Assent to Sikh Heritage Month Act

Ottawa (April 30, 2019):  The World Sikh Organization of Canada welcomes Royal Assent to Bill-376 “An Act to Designate April as Sikh Heritage Month”.  The Bill is now law and henceforth, April will be recognized as Sikh Heritage Month in Canada. 

Bill 376 was originally introduced by Surrey-Newton MP Sukh Dhaliwal in October 2017. 

The Bill received unanimous support in a vote in the House of commons on November 7, 2018 and was passed in the Senate on April 11, 2019. 

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Indian Interference in Canadian Politics 'Shocking': WSO

Ottawa (April 23, 2019):  The World Sikh Organization of Canada is deeply troubled by a report published today in the Globe & Mail that states Patrick Brown, the then leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, was “under ‘pressure’ from the Indian consulate” to reject a Sikh candidate during a nomination battle in May 2017. 

According to the Globe Investigation, Patrick Brown was under “pressure” from the Indian consulate in Toronto to reject the candidacy of Vikram Singh because of the consulate’s allegations against his father.

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WSO Expresses Concern Over Indian Interference in Canada

Ottawa (April 17, 2019):  The World Sikh Organization of Canada has written to Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale over concerns regarding the interference of Indian interests in Canada and within the Sikh community.

Last week, Germany laid charges against individuals for spying on the Sikh and Kashmiri communities and providing information to India’s foreign intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).  This is the third-time German authorities have charged individuals for spying on behalf of India in the recent past.  Charges had earlier been laid against a Ranjit Singh in March 2014 and one “T.S.P.” in September 2016.  It also came to light that the same Ranjit Singh who was charged in 2014 for spying was named on April 1, 2019 as a facilitator and handler of a cell of “Babbar Khalsa” militants who were arrested in Mohali, Punjab. Those arrested are all below the age of 30 and were reportedly radicalized by Ranjit. It was alleged by the Punjab Police that “Ranjit Singh is the mastermind who was providing help to the accused and was motivating them to eliminate the targets.”

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Changes to 2018 Terror Report a Welcome First Step

Ottawa (April 12, 2019):  The World Sikh Organization of Canada welcomes the changes to the 2018 Public Report on the Terrorism Threat to Canada.  In an update this evening, the title “Sikh (Khalistani) Extremism” has been removed and replaced with “Extremists who support violent means to establish an independent state within India”. 

In a statement issued on April 7, 2019, Minister Goodale had acknowledged that “the language used to describe some threats unintentionally maligned certain communities….and is not in line with the values of the Government of Canada”.

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Addendum to 2018 Terror Report Not Enough: World Sikh Organization

Ottawa (April 8, 2019):  The World Sikh Organization of Canada expresses its disappointment in reaction to the “Statement from Minister Goodale on the Public Report on the Terrorist Threat in Canada.”

In his statement issued yesterday, Minister Goodale acknowledged that “the language used to describe some threats unintentionally maligned certain communities….and is not in line with the values of the Government of Canada”.

Sikhs across Canada expressed their shock and disappointment at the inclusion of “Sikh (Khalistani) Terrorism” to the 2018 Public Safety Canada Report on Terrorism Threats to Canada.  The report does not make any reference to current extremist activities in the Sikh community and simply states, “some individuals in Canada continue to support Sikh (Khalistani) extremist ideologies and movements.”

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WSO Deeply Disappointed by Tabling of Quebec "Secularism" Bill

French version follows below....

Montreal (March 28, 2019):  The World Sikh Organization of Canada is deeply disappointed by the tabling of Bill 21- An Act respecting the laicity of the State today by the Coalition Avenir Quebec government banning the wearing of religious symbols.  Public servants in positions of authority such as police officers, judges, prosecutors and also school teachers will be included in the ban.  The bill has invoked the notwithstanding clause, allowing it to override freedom of religion protections enshrined in the Charter of Rights & Freedoms and Quebec’s own Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

This is the fourth-time Quebec has seen the introduction of a bill banning religious garb or symbols, with this being the broadest proposal to date. 

The term “religious symbols” remains undefined in the law- leaving it unclear how particular items of jewelry or clothing will be classified cultural, religious or otherwise and who will make that determination. 

There are approximately 15,000 Sikhs in Quebec who will be disproportionately impacted by the ban on religious clothing and symbols.  Practicing Sikhs, both men and women, wear the Sikh articles of faith such as the turban at all times as part of their daily lives as reminders of the principles of equality, service and spirituality.    

WSO President Mukhbir Singh said today:

“we are deeply disappointed that the CAQ has introduced legislation banning the wearing of religious clothing and symbols in Quebec. The proposed legislation is a solution to a problem that does not exist- there is no evidence to suggest that individuals wearing items of religious clothing are negatively impacting anyone in society.  Secularism is about the neutrality of the state towards religion and not about limiting individuals’ freedom of religion.

This ban will have a deeply negative impact on Sikhs in Quebec.  The wearing of the turban and the Sikh articles of faith is not optional for Sikhs and a ban on these articles of faith is, in effect, a ban on Sikhs in positions of authority.  We fear that this ban will have a trickle-down effect into the private sector and young Sikhs who are born and raised in Quebec will find it even more difficult to find jobs in the province.  

Because the CAQ government has invoked the notwithstanding clause to override protections for freedom of religion enshrined in both the Canadian and Quebec Charters, the only solution is for the people of Quebec to strongly oppose this bill. We are also hopeful that politicians across Quebec and Canada will join us in denouncing this deeply discriminatory legislation.”

The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of Canadian Sikhs, as well as to promote and advocate for the protection of human rights for all individuals, irrespective of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, and social and economic status.

 

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L'Organisation mondiale Sikh du Canada (WSO) est profondément déçue aujourd’hui du dépôt du projet de loi 21 « Loi sur la laïcité de l’État »par le gouvernement de la Coalition Avenir Québec interdisant le port de vêtements et de symboles religieux. Les fonctionnaires occupant des postes d’autorité tels que les policiers, les juges, les procureurs et aussi les enseignants seront inclus dans l’interdiction. Le projet de loi a invoqué la disposition de dérogation, ce qui lui permet de passer outre aux protections de la liberté de religion inscrites dans la Charte des droits et libertés et dans la Charte des droits et libertés de la personne du Québec.

C’est la quatrième fois que le Québec présente un projet de loi interdisant les vêtements ou les symboles religieux, cette proposition étant la plus vaste à ce jour.

Le terme «symboles religieux» n’a pas été défini dans la loi, ce qui ne permet pas de savoir comment certains articles de bijouterie ou de vêtement seront classés culturels, religieux ou autres, et qui en décidera.

Il y a environ 15 000 sikhs au Québec qui seront affectés de façon disproportionnée par l’interdiction des vêtements et des symboles religieux. Les sikhs pratiquants, hommes et femmes, portent en tout temps les articles de foi Sikh tels que le turban dans leur vie quotidienne comme rappels des principes d’égalité, de service et de spiritualité.

Le président de la WSO, Mukhbir Singh, a déclaré aujourd’hui :

« Nous sommes profondément déçus que la CAQ ait déposé une loi interdisant le port de vêtements et de symboles religieux au Québec. Le projet de loi proposé est une solution à un problème qui n’existe pas. Il n’y a aucune évidence indiquant que les personnes qui portent des vêtements religieux ont des répercussions négatives sur quiconque dans la société. La laïcité, c’est la neutralité de l’État envers la religion et non la limitation de la liberté de religion des individus.

Cette interdiction aura des répercussions très négatives sur la communauté sikhe du Québec. Le port des articles de foi comme le turban n’est pas optionnel pour les sikhs et l’interdiction de ces articles de foi est, en effet, une interdiction pour les sikhs en position d’autorité. Nous craignons que cette interdiction ait un effet de ruissellement dans le secteur privé et que les jeunes sikhs nés et ayant grandi au Québec aient encore plus de difficulté à trouver emploi dans la province.

Étant donné que le gouvernement de la CAQ a invoqué la disposition de dérogation pour passer outre aux protections de la liberté de religion inscrites dans la Charte canadienne et québécoise, la seule solution est que la population du Québec s’oppose fermement à ce projet de loi. Nous espérons aussi que les politiciens du Québec et du Canada nous joindront pour dénoncer ce projet de loi profondément discriminatoire.»


WSO to Host KaursVote Panels For Sikh Heritage Month

Ottawa (March 27, 2019):  In marking Sikh Heritage Month, the World Sikh Organization of Canada will be hosting “KaursVotes” panels in cities across Canada.

KaursVote is a non-partisan initiative that will address the underrepresentation of Sikh women in the political process by focusing on why Sikh women’s voices are so important.  The initiative will help start dialogues for Sikh women across the country on how they can better engage with the political process and ensure that politicians are responsive and accountable to their issues.

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WSO Delighted to Welcome First Afghan Sikh & Hindu Refugee Families to Canada

Calgary (March 12, 2019):  The World Sikh Organization of Canada is delighted to welcome the arrival of the first Sikh and Hindu refugee families from Afghanistan to Canada.  The first two refugee families arrived this afternoon in Calgary.  Today’s arrivals are the result of the tireless work of Manmeet Singh Bhullar who championed this cause prior to his tragic passing in November 2015.

The arriving refugees have been sponsored through private applications that were spearheaded by the Manmeet Singh Bhullar Foundation with support from the World Sikh Organization of Canada, community groups and individuals carrying on the tireless work of Manmeet Singh Bhullar. By utilizing the private sponsorship stream, individuals donate the costs of refugee sponsorship, maintaining legal responsibility to ensure settlement supports are provided to refugees.

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CATSA Resolves WSO Airport Kirpan Complaint

Ottawa (March 12, 2019):  A complaint initiated by the World Sikh Organization of Canada has resulted in the Canadian Air Transport & Safety Agency (CATSA) issuing an operational advisory and remedial training to airport screeners with respect to the screening of the kirpan.

In November 2017, Transport Canada allowed blades of up to 6cm in length on domestic and international flights in Canada.  Sikh passengers can wear small kirpans with blades of up to 6cm on all flights out of Canada, except those to the US.  Sikh passengers may be screened while wearing the kirpan and are not required to remove it when passing through security.  Sikh passengers should be offered the option of a private search area.   While the kirpan will be visually inspected, it can continue to be worn on the person during screening.  The kirpan can be held away from the body when the screener scans the area. 

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