The Word Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) welcomes Canada Immigration & Citizenship (CIC) Minister, The Hon. Diane Finley's statement clarifying that Sikh applicants for immigration will not be required to change their surnames of "Singh" and "Kaur".
However, it is unclear whether the policy requiring Sikhs with the last names Kaur and Singh, to provide a third name, has only been modified, or completely abolished. "The policy of Canada's New Government is that applicants with the surnames "Singh" or "Kaur" may, but are not required to, provide an additional surname."
WSO Canada appreciates the Minister's sentiment that no disrespectful or discriminatory intent was involved. However, nothing short of a clear and unequivocal abolition of this policy, is acceptable.
Sikhism is a 500 year old religion. While Columbus was "sailing the ocean blue", Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, was disseminating an egalitarian vision of the world - one in which men and women were treated as equals, all religions were respected as different (but equal) paths to reach the same goal, racism was eliminated, and people were judged by their actions and not their social or economic status. Many Sikhs who are committed to this vision of equality, are given the names Kaur (women) and Singh (men). These are the only "last" names they have.
Unless it is the policy of CIC to ask every immigration applicant to provide a third name, irrespective of their ethnicity, a policy asking Sikh applicants to do so is unacceptable.