Quebec Judge's Ban on Hijab Stunningly Wrong

Ottawa (February 27, 2015):  The World Sikh Organization of Canada is stunned by the refusal of a Quebec judge to hear the case of a hijab-wearing Muslim woman in Montreal.  Judge Eliana Marengo said that the hijab was "inappropriate" because the courtroom is a "secular place". 

WSO President, Dr. Amritpal Singh Shergill said today, "the issue of religious head-coverings has long been decided in Canada.  It would appear that Judge Marengo is ignoring both Quebec and Canadian law, which quite clearly protects freedom of religion.  The wearing of a hijab, turban, kippah or of a crucifix for that matter, does not in any way impact the secular nature of a courtroom.  This is not only a human rights and constitutional matter, but one of access to justice that must be resolved immediately and could potentially have a negative impact on Canadians of other faiths as well.  This is a stunningly wrong decision that must be corrected."

Sikhs Serve Shelters Across Canada for One Billiion Rising

Min. Tim Uppal with WSO Vancouver MembersMin. Tim Uppal with WSO Vancouver MembersOttawa (February 17, 2015):  For the third year in a row, the World Sikh Organization of Canada joined with Sikh communities across Canada to take part in the One Billion Rising movement by providing care packages, treats and baked goods to over  1000 women and children in shelters in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal.   Each package was accompanied by Valentine’s cards prepared by Sikh children and students from local Khalsa schools and gurdwaras. 

One Billion Rising began as a call to action based on the staggering statistic that 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. With the world population at 7 billion, this adds up to more than one billion women and girls.  

This initiative was launched by the WSO in 2013 in Vancouver and has subsequently spread across Canada.

WSO Supports Brampton Council Move to Introduce Moment of Silence

Brampton City CouncilBrampton City CouncilBrampton (February 11, 2015):  The World Sikh Organization of Canada supports Brampton City Council 's move to introduce a moment of silence, in place of a prayer, to commence council meetings.  The WSO made submissions to Brampton City Council via a letter and by oral submissions today, endorsing the move, which was subsequently approved by council. 

In December, council replaced the Lord's Prayer with a non-denominational prayer.  Brampton City Council passed this decision last week in a 9-2 vote in favour of ending the practice. The move had proven contentious as some Brampton residents felt the tradition of opening meetings with the Christian prayer should not be altered. 

WSO Negotiates Kara Accommodation for Toronto Sikh Student

Jagroop Singh PandherJagroop Singh PandherToronto (February 4, 2015):  The World Sikh Organization of Canada has assisted a Toronto Sikh student who was prevented from wearing his kara (Sikh bracelet) while working at a local food processing facility.

On September 13, 2014 Jagroop Singh Pandher was working as a palletizer at the Give & Go Prepared Food Corporation when he was told, in reference to his kara, that he would not be permitted to wear his 'jewelry' on the job.  Jagroop Singh's kara could not be seen at the time, as it was rolled tightly up his arm and was not loose.  Despite attempts to explain its significance, Jagroop Singh was told that if he wished to continue working at the facility, he would have to remove his kara.

No clear safety risk was identified as to why the kara could not be worn while being restrained on the arm as Jagroop Singh was wearing it. 

WSO Assists Student Barred From Wearing Kirpan in LSAT

Ishwer Singh BasraIshwer Singh BasraVancouver (January 28, 2014):  The World Sikh Organization of Canada has successfully assisted a Sikh student barred from wearing his kirpan into the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). 

Ishwer Singh Basra, an amritdhari (initiated) Sikh, was scheduled to write the LSAT on September 27, 2014.  Upon arriving at the test centre in Burnaby BC, Ishwer Singh's kirpan was spotted by a proctor.  Despite being explained its significance, the proctor said the kirpan would not be permitted in the test centre.  The proctor then proceeded to call the Law Society Admission Council (LSAC), the body that administers the LSAT, and said that there was a student carrying a "knife" and insisting it was for religious purposes.  After a brief phone call, the proctor reiterated to Ishwer Singh that his "knife" would not be allowed.

Ishwer Singh was given the option of either removing the kirpan and being allowed to write the test or forfeiting the exam and writing another day in which he would once again be told to remove his kirpan.

Remembering Rajni Kothari: Author of 'Who Are the Guilty?'

Today we remember Shri Rajni Kothari, who passed away today in New Delhi at the age of 86.  Kothari was well known and respected for his work in the fields of human rights, political science and public service.  For the Sikh community, Kothari will be best remembered for raising his voice for justice in the case of the 1984 anti-Sikh genocide.  As the then President of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, he had the fortitude and courage to write a forthright and probing report on the events of November 1984 which continues to be one of the most reliable accounts of what happened.  The report “Who Are the Guilty?” gave a description of the massacres that took place and was a damning indictment of those politicians who orchestrated the violence.  

We post below an article written by Kothari about the 1984 Genocide.  Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time.  

WSO Condemns Racist Vandalism of Edmonton Gurdwara

Edmonton (January 9, 2015):  The World Sikh Organization of Canada condemns the racist vandalism of the Sri Guru Singh Sabha gurdwara in south Edmonton.  Two phrases, including “Leave Canada” were found spray-painted on the outside of the gurdwara today. 

The WSO has been in contact with members of the Sri Guru Singh Sabha gurdwara and offered its support and assistance in dealing with this incident. 

The WSO’s Alberta Vice-President, Tejinder Singh Sidhu said, “these sort of incidents are born out of ignorance and fear and we feel the best way to deal with them is to educate and reach out to those in the community who may not know who Sikhs are. The vandals would have made better use of their time if they simply went inside the gurdwara, asked a few questions and enjoyed the free meal available to all visitors.”

WSO Calls on India to Follow Acknowledgment of 1984 Genocide with Vigorous Prosecutions

Ottawa (December 30, 2014):  The World Sikh Organization of Canada has written to Indian Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, welcoming his acknowledgement of the killing of Sikhs in November 1984 as a genocide and calling on him to follow up his announcement with investigations and prosecutions of those responsible for orchestrating and carrying out the killings.

WSO Writes to Indian PM Calling for Release of Sikh Prisoners

Ottawa (December 29, 2014):  The World Sikh Organization of Canada has written to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, calling for the release of Sikh prisoners who have served their minimum mandatory sentences in Indian prisons. 

Sikh activist, Bhai Gurbaksh Singh, has been on a hunger strike at Lakhnaur Sahib in Haryana since November 14th, to draw attention to this issue.  He had undertaken a similar hunger strike last year.

As Bhai Gurbaksh Singh’s hunger strike continues, his health has reached a critical stage and WSO President, Dr. Amritpal Singh Shergill has called on Indian Prime Minister Modi to work towards the release of the Sikh prisoners, some of whom have been held for well over 20 years.  

Dr. Shergill wrote, “the Sikh community in India, Canada and across the world is deeply troubled by the deteriorating health of Bhai Gurbaksh Singh and trusts that you will take prompt action to release these Sikh prisoners who have completed their minimum sentences.”

CBC Reports False & Malicious Allegations Against WSO

(December 11, 2014)  The World Sikh Organization of Canada would like to correct recent reports that it has endorsed candidates or is involved in nomination battles in the Liberal Party of Canada.

A CBC report stating that the WSO is involved in the backroom battles among warring Liberal Party members is not only inaccurate, it is defamatory. Other media outlets are requested to contact the WSO before repeating and spreading this misinformation. Allegations that the WSO is linked to, endorses, or supports any form of violence are false and malicious.

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