News: Human Rights Laws & the Sikh Kirpan

Alastair Clarke was contacted by the Winnipeg Free Press regarding an incident in Winnipeg where 2 Sikh men were barred from entering a Dollarama because they were wearing their ceremonial kirpans. This has been an ongoing issue within the Sikh community and the right to wear religious objects has been upheld within the context of Human Rights laws in Canada.

Here is a link to the Winnipeg Free Press article by Carol Saunders.

Title: Siks barred from Dollarama store: Men wearing kirpans denied entry, file human rights complaint

An excerpt:

Two Sikh men barred from entering a Dollarama store for wearing their kirpans — ceremonial religious knives — have filed a complaint with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission.

The incident Thursday was unexpected and embarrassing, said Harpal Gill, 68, who has shopped at the Jefferson Avenue store in the Maples several times before.

“I was surprised,” he said after contacting the Free Press. “Any time I go to the store, nobody stops me.”

 

On Thursday, just after 4 p.m., he went to the Dollarama with his friend and neighbour Joginder Sidhu. An older Caucasian woman working there stopped them at the entrance, Gill said.

“She said ‘Take it out,’” referring to the symbolic knife that is one of five articles of faith devout Sikh men are to carry.

Gill said he and Sidhu tried to explain it is a religious symbol, but she wouldn’t listen and directed the security guard to bar them from entering the store.

Alastair Clarke is currently not representing Mr. Gill or Mr. Sidhu and he has not reviewed the case in detail. For information purposes, the WFP included this information and these quotes:Full service immigration law firm

“This protection is found in provincial laws such as our Human Rights Code but also in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which are Canada’s foundational human rights laws,” she said. “Ensuring that staff are aware of the Human Rights Code, its rights and responsibilities, should be a necessary part of any staff training or orientation,” Khan said.

 

The denial of services by Dollarama to the Sikh men solely on the grounds they were wearing their ceremonial kirpans may be contrary to the Human Rights Code and may result in the store having to provide human rights training to its staff, said Winnipeg immigration lawyer Alastair Clarke.

 

“Manitoba business owners do have the right to ban weapons from their premises and to protect their property, as long as that ban does not violate other laws,” said Clarke. “In this case, it may be that Dollarama’s policy needs to be reconsidered, and they may need to provide additional training to their employees on the Human Rights Code. If this case goes to the tribunal, one of the potential orders from the tribunal is for Dollarama to provide additional training on these issues for their staff,” Clarke said.

Subsequent to printing, Clarke Immigration Law has been in contact with MLA Mohinder Saran’s office and MP Kevin Lamoureux’s office to arrange a free informational session at a Gurdwara for the Sikh community.