I am pleased to share the World Sikh Organization of Canada’s 2017 Annual Report with you, our friends and partners.
2017 was a milestone year for WSO and the Canadian Sikh community with our involvement in Canada 150 celebrations from coast to coast, a conscious effort to recognize the Indigenous communities, breakthroughs on wearing of the kakaars and a renewed focus on community initiatives.
With our strong team of volunteers and directors from across Canada, we made sure Sikh voices were heard whenever it mattered most. WSO had a major breakthrough with respect to the wearing of the kirpan on airplanes. What had been one of the final and most significant obstacles in the accommodation of the kirpan was resolved through WSO's efforts this year as Sikhs can now wear small kirpans with blades of up to 6cm on all Canadian flights, except those to the US.
We also helped many Sikhs facing challenges at work and school this year by advocating for their rights and ensuring they received equitable treatment. Community initiatives such as One Billion Rising, Karmagrow, ‘Turban Eh!’ and many other initiatives reached thousands. Our educational programs such as the Sikh Youth Leadership Institute had another successful year of students graduate through the program. The Sikh Family Helpline, Canada’s first Punjabi language helpline was officially launched this year and has already made an impact in the lives of the most vulnerable in our community.
A testament to WSO's strong legal team and the respect it is afforded can be gauged by the fact that our former general counsel, Palbinder Kaur Shergill was appointed a judge to the Supreme Court of BC - the first turbaned Sikh judge to ever hold the office in Canadian history.
Our work continues with even more vigour as WSO continues to challenge the Quebec National Assembly's ban on the kirpan in court and ensuring that turbans are accommodated at worksites. We are regularly contacted by Sikhs in Canada facing discrimination on the job and we are proud to be a strong voice for them. WSO is the only truly national Sikh body in Canada and we have a track record that is our pride and speaks volumes to the dedication of WSO's founders, executive and volunteers.
With a new Board full of talented and motivated individuals, all with the aim of serving, I am confident that the team will continue to impress. WSO has a proud track record of service not just to Sikhs but to the cause of human rights for all Canadians - let's continue this. We appreciate your support and look forward to doing more seva in 2018.
President, World Sikh Organization of Canada