WSO Helps Resolve Seneca College Kirpan Issue

Toronto (October 19, 2011):  The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) has helped Seneca College student Jaspreet Singh secure the right to freely wear his kirpan on campus, and will be working  with Seneca College in developing a policy document with respect to the kirpan as well as training materials for faculty, students and security.

On the afternoon of September 12, 2011, Jaspreet Singh was stopped by a campus security guard and escorted to the security office where he was told that a complaint had been made about his kirpan and that he should either stow his kirpan in his bag or conceal it.  The following day, Jaspreet Singh was standing with a friend when he was once again approached by the same security guard and asked whether he had hidden his “weapon”.   Jaspreet Singh’s non-Sikh friend protested that  the wearing of the kirpan is a human rights issue and he should not be harassed.  The security guard requested their student cards and noted them in his note pad saying he would report them to his manager.

After being contacted by Jaspreet Singh for assistance, WSO intervened to help resolve the issue.  After discussions and a meeting with Seneca College’s Dean of Students, the complaint against Jaspreet Singh has been dismissed and steps are being taken to inform the complainant of the significance of the kirpan.  Furthermore, Seneca College has affirmed that there is no restriction on the wearing of the kirpan by Sikh students.  Security guards have been instructed that no steps should be taken against Sikh students wearing the kirpan. 

In addition, Seneca College with the assistance of WSO will be drafting wording in the college’s Student Rights and Responsibilities document which identifies the kirpan as an important article of faith.  Educational and training material will also be provided on the kirpan for faculty, students and security staff. 

WSO legal counsel Balpreet Singh said, “While it’s unfortunate that this incident took place, Seneca College has been very cooperative and clearly wants to ensure that something like this doesn’t happen again.  Sikh students across Canada wear their kirpans to schools, colleges and universities and after the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in the Multani case it really no longer should be an issue.”

If you or someone you know has faced discrimination because of their faith, please contact WSO for free advice and assistance.

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.

For more information, please contact:

Balpreet Singh

Legal Counsel

416-904-9110

balpreetsingh@worldsikh.org