Ottawa-August 4, 2009: The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) expresses concern and disappointment that numerous Sikhs were denied entry into the Telus Convention Centre in Calgary because of their wearing of the kirpan during the Gurdas Mann concert on August 2, 2009. Instead of accommodating the kirpan, Telus Convention Centre management chose to cancel the show, disappointing thousands of concertgoers.
The kirpan is worn at all times by ‘initiated’ or amritdhari Sikhs. It reminds the wearer of their obligation to stand up for justice and to support the underprivileged in society. Canadian courts have recognized that the kirpan is an important Sikh article of faith and not a weapon.
WSO Canada President, Gurpreet Singh Bal said today, “It is unfortunate that while accommodations for the kirpan have been made at the Canadian House of Commons and the Supreme Court of Canada, the Telus Convention Centre management imposed a policy that was clearly discriminatory and with no legal basis. Barring practicing Sikhs from attending the concert was unacceptable, as was the cancellation of the concert.”
Senior Policy Advisor for WSO, Gian Singh Sandhu stated, “With the long history of Sikhs in Canada and a significant Sikh population in Alberta, it is astounding that the Telus Convention Centre took such a cavalier disregard for the religious freedoms of Canadians. If Convention Centre management were not familiar with the kirpan, then they should have taken steps to immediately rectify the policy and bring it in line with Canadian laws. At the minimum, the Telus Convention Centre management needs to apologize for what has happened and put safeguards into place to ensure that incidences such as this can be avoided in the future.”
The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is a non-profit international organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of the Sikh Diaspora, 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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For more information please contact:
Gian Singh Sandhu