World Sikh Organization Condemns Unfair Name Change Policy

The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) expresses its concern and disappointment over Canadian immigration policy forbidding Sikh immigration-applicants from using their names of Singh or Kaur.

The names Singh and Kaur for males and females respectively, have been in use amongst the Sikh people worldwide for over 300 years. Singh and Kaur were given to all initiated Sikhs to represent the abolition of class and caste inequalities which were fundamental features of Indian society. Canadian Sikhs are proud of the values Canada stands for internationally, including equality, freedom of religion, and protection of human dignity. It is unfortunate that the Canadian policy, forcing Sikhs to changes their given surnames, which have been in use by their families for hundreds of years, is a rejection of the very values which have attracted hundreds of thousands of Sikhs to this great country and a rejection of the values the names Singh and Kaur represent.

It is also of particular concern to the WSO that while the Sikh names Singh and Kaur have been targeted as being too common, no such policy exists for other common surnames. Names such as Lee, Wang or Smith which are shared by hundreds of millions of people continue to be acceptable and so the question arises, why has the Sikh community been singled out for this policy?

WSO Canada President Gurpreet Singh Bal said today, The immigration policy requiring Sikhs to change their surnames is not just offensive to Sikhs, it also flies in the face of everything the Canadian Charter stands for and we as Canadians value. The policy needs to change so that Sikhs with the surname Singh and Kaur are treated fairly and with dignity, like all others in our society.

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