WSO Announces Hiring of Full Time Legal Counsel

Ottawa – (October 13, 2009): The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is pleased to announce the appointment of Balpreet Singh Boparai as full time legal counsel. Balpreet Singh is a graduate of the University of Ottawa Law School and was called to the bar in 2009, after articling with a well known human rights law firm in Toronto.

Balpreet Singh has been volunteering with the WSO for the past several years and brings sound legal knowledge, advocacy skills and a keen interest in the area of human rights to the position. In the past, Balpreet Singh has worked with WSO to pursue a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission against Via Rail for their restriction on the kirpan. The complaint was settled and as a result, Via rail changed its policy in order to accommodate the kirpan. Balpreet Singh is also active in the local Sikh community and serves as a director at the Institute of Gurmat Studies in Brampton.

“The addition of Balpreet Singh to the WSO team will help to expedite the handling of many human rights issues that the organization handles for the Sikh Community,” said, Gurpreet Singh Bal, WSO President.

“Balpreet Singh joins our team of legal volunteers who work tirelessly to advocate on behalf of not only Sikhs, but other religious minorities in Canada as well. His appointment will increase WSO’s ability to advocate and take legal action on behalf of the over 400,000-strong Sikh community in Canada” said, Gian Singh Sandhu, WSO Senior Policy Advisor.

WSO is a privately funded human rights organization that does not receive any funding from any level of Governments. For the past 25 years, WSO has been advocating for the Sikh community and has been involved in a number of legal cases across Canada at all levels, including the Supreme Court of Canada.

The WSO is currently involved in a number of cases involving the Sikh articles of faith, including acting as intervenor in the R v. Badesha appeal in Ontario, in which the right of Sikh motorcyclists to wear a turban is being considered.

The WSO urges all Sikhs to donate generously so that we can continue our human rights and legal advocacy work. The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is a non-profit 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.

For more information, please contact:

Balpreet Singh Boparai (Legal Consel WSO) Tel. 416-904-9110, Email: [email protected]

Amanpreet Singh Bal Tel. 905-567-1795, Cell 416-677-1528, Email: [email protected]

Landmark cases in which WSO has acted as intervenors, include:

Multani v. Commission scolair Marguerite-Bourgeoys (2006 SCC 6)
This landmark 8-0 decision by the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed the right of Sikh students to wear the kirpan while attending school. WSO acted as an intervenor before the Court.

The League for Human Rights of B 'Nai Brith Canada v. Syndicat Northcrest et al. [2004] 2 S.C.R. 551 
WSO acted as intervenor in this case in which the Supreme Court of Canada considered the right of Jewish condominium owners to build succah huts on their balconies during the festival of Succat and considered the appropriate test to be applied when considering a claim for freedom of religion;

Grant et al. v. Attorney General (Canada), 11 9951 1 F.C. 158 (F.C.A.)
WSO was granted intervenor status in this case which considered the right of the RCMP to amend its dress code regulations to allow a Sikh officer to wear a turban while on duty.

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