New Policy Accommodating Sikh Kirpan at Canadian Missions Abroad

April 14, 2014 - On behalf of Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, the Honourable Tim Uppal, Minister of State (Multiculturalism), today announced a new policy on accommodating the Sikh kirpan at Canadian missions abroad.

“Canada’s diversity is one of our greatest strengths, and freedom of religion is a fundamental Canadian value,” said Minister of State Uppal. “Our government’s new kirpan policy will serve as an example and promote Canadian values around the world.”

“The accommodation of the kirpan at Canadian diplomatic missions around the world is a deeply significant move that shows that the Government of Canada understands and respects the significance of the kirpan to Sikhs,” said Amritpal Singh Shergill, President of the World Sikh Organization of Canada. “Most importantly, this policy reflects the importance Canada places on human rights, including freedom of religion, and sets an example for the rest of world.”

The new policy provides clear guidance to missions on accommodating the Sikh kirpan, a stylized representation of a sword or dagger, while fulfilling the government’s responsibility for ensuring the physical security of employees at missions.

Visitors to Canadian missions who declare themselves to be Sikhs will be permitted to retain their kirpans when entering the missions, provided their kirpans are secured within a sheath, attached to a fabric belt and worn under clothing across the torso. They should also be in possession of the four other Sikh articles of faith.

This new policy is part of the government’s efforts to promote human rights, encourage protection of religious minorities around the world and promote the values of pluralism and tolerance.

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