September 21, 2013 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Brampton (September 20, 2013): The World Sikh Organization of Canada has helped resolve a kirpan accommodation issue at Brampton’s Copeland Public School where a Sikh student in grade three was told he would not be permitted to wear his kirpan during physical education classes.
Eight-year-old Deep Singh Hansra, who along with his family became an amritdhari (initiated) Sikh this past summer, returned to school in September but was told that although he would be permitted to wear his kirpan to school, he would have to remove it for physical education classes. Concerns were expressed over possible safety issues that might arise as a result of the wearing of the kirpan during physical activities.
The Hansra family contacted WSO for advice and assistance to resolve the matter. The WSO worked in collaboration with the Peel Board of Education as well as the school’s administration to find an accommodation that would allow Deep to practice his faith but also ensure that safety concerns were appropriately addressed.
In a meeting with school officials, it was resolved that Deep can wear his kirpan during physical education classes provided that the kirpan is securely held in the gatra (belt), swaddled in fabric and that it is secured close to the body so it cannot fly up or swing during physical activities.
Lawyer Jaskaran Sandhu, a volunteer with WSO’s legal team, accompanied the Hansra family to the meeting with the school and helped finalize the accommodation.
WSO’s legal counsel Balpreet Singh said, “both sides worked in collaboration to reach an agreement which allows Deep to freely practice his faith while also addressing any safety concerns that were raised. The accommodation reached here can serve as a model for others in similar situations. Deep Singh and his family should be commended for their perseverance and determination to resolve this matter, not just for their own benefit, but for all Sikh students who may find themselves in a similar situation in the future.”
WSO offers free advice and advocacy for individuals requiring assistance at their schools, workplaces or elsewhere with respect to religious accommodation issues.
The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of Canadian Sikhs 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.
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