The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) expresses concern over the rejected passport applications of three young Sikh children, Gurmant Singh Sidhu, Gurleen Kaur Sidhu and Ravneet Kaur Sidhu of Surrey, British Columbia.
Passport Canada rejected the applications, stating that the pictures of the children did not meet specifications because the wearing of a “head covering is unacceptable.”
The head-coverings in question are traditional Sikh head-coverings worn by observant Sikhs and the children were wearing these as part of their religious observance. The WSO finds it particularly odd that while the Sidhu children’s applications were rejected, those of their parents, also wearing traditional Sikh head-coverings, were accepted. The family has resubmitted the applications and is waiting for a reply.
The WSO yesterday sent a letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and awaits a reply with the hope that this incident is due only to a misunderstanding on the part of a local official and will be resolved quickly. The wearing of religious headgear by Sikhs is protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and if it is indeed Passport Canada’s policy to reject applications from Sikhs wearing these head-coverings, it is completely unacceptable.
WSO Canada President, Gurpreet Singh Bal said, “It is surprising that something like this can still happen today in Canada. The Sikh community has been a part of Canada for over 100 years and it is no secret that many Sikhs wear religious head-coverings. Hopefully this was a gross error on the part of a local official but if it is indeed Passport Canada’s policy, then this is of serious concern to the Sikh community.”
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