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Wearing Kirpan Openly In Canada

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waheguru ji ka khalsa waheguru ji ki fateh

Is it possible to wear kirpan openly in Canada, that is, not beneath one's clothing? If so, is this routinely practiced?

In the UK, I've often worn it openly but in some circumstances had this partly covered e.g. over the clothes but partly wrapped by a cummarband along the waist. Sometimes beneath a sleeveless vest type jacket with half of it dangling at my waist. I've never experienced any problems and dealt politely with the odd racist. I've spent several years doing humanitarian work in the developing world and have never had to conceal my kirpan at any time.

However I'm now moving to Canada and am apprehensive about public acceptance, particularly in small provinces where they may be just a handful or no sikhs at all. I wear only hand spun bana and no other style of clothing whatsoever. Can I walk down a high street without fear of being arrested or worse, shot by gun-toting police?

Would it be prudent to have a prior meeting with the administration/police chief of the town/city that I plan to spend time in, to help them understand my rights?

Thanks for your kind help.

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Not sure, check the local and province laws in terms of size and whatnot.

Here in the states in most places it's 2.5", but if it's openly carried then there is no length limit. I don't really abide by the length limit though. :nono:

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When examining the question of kirpans in the public sphere, safety and security are of particular importance. Many court decisions have allowed kirpans in a variety of contexts provided that safety is not an issue of overriding importance and the blade is properly contained.

Kirpans have been specifically allowed in schools by the Supreme Court of Canada. In Multani v. Commission scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys, 31 the Supreme Court overturned a school boards prohibition on kirpans as part of the boards broader policy on weapons, holding that such a prohibition infringed the students freedom of religion in a way that could not be justified under section 1 of the Charter. Although the prohibition was motivated by the objective of ensuring a reasonable level of safety at school, the court held that options were available that would have less impact on the students freedom of religion, such as allowing the student to wear the kirpan under restrictions that would have ensured that it was carefully sealed within his clothing. The court noted that there was no evidence of violent incidents related to kirpans in schools across Canada, and other objects such as scissors and baseball bats could be much more easily obtained by any student with violent intentions.

Despite some evidence of resistance among the Quebec public,32 this case nonetheless seemed to reflect the reality of compromise with respect to kirpans that already existed in school boards across Canada. Courts in British Columbia and Ontario had already specifically upheld similar policies.33 Using similar reasoning, the British Columbia Court of Appeal also upheld the right to wear a kirpan in a hospital in British Columbia (Workers Compensation Board) v. British Columbia (Council of Human Rights)34 under (then) section 3 of the British Columbia Human Rights Code35 prohibiting discrimination in the provision of accommodation and services.

As a matter of policy, Sikh members of Parliament are entitled to wear the kirpan to the Canadian House of Commons, and visitors may wear the kirpan in the public gallery. However, in this respect, Quebec legislators have, in the past, adopted a different approach to their federal counterparts. In early 2011, a Sikh delegation seeking to testify on Quebecs reasonable accommodation bill was denied entry to the National Assembly when its members refused to remove their kirpans.

Nevertheless, where safety is of real concern, it is clear that kirpans are prohibited despite provincial or federal laws protecting freedom of religion. For example, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has held that prohibiting kirpans during air travel is legitimate for the protection of passengers and staff. 36 Similarly, in order to protect personal security, public order and the administration of justice, the Manitoba Court of Appeal upheld the right of a judge to bar kirpans from the courtroom in R. v. Hothi et al. 37 While the court acknowledged that the kirpan was a religious symbol and not a weapon, it based its decision on the authority of a judge to maintain control of his or her courtroom. This authority has traditionally encompassed the right to ensure that there are no weapons whatsoever in the courtroom, as the presence of a weapon could thwart the process of justice by being perceived as an adverse influence. Nevertheless, individuals involved in the Multani case were permitted to wear the kirpan during the hearing before the Supreme Court.

http://www.lop.parl.gc.ca/content/lop/researchpublications/2011-60-e.htm#a7

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I appreciate that there are various laws mostly which protect rights but these mostly relate to the like of public buildings and schools.

I'm more interested in every day life; the high street, shops and parks. In practice, can and do sikhs wear their kirpan openly in Canada?

Can I walk down the high street in my bana without fear?

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Shot by gun-toting police? Seriously lol? Maybe its best you not come here if thats what you think happens here.

You would do well to empathise with the apprehensions of someone and if it is the case, offer reassurances that their apprehensions are misplaced. I have a fundamental right to live where I chose to do so, peacefully and legally.

In Canada, the rate of law enforcement homicide is the second highest of any developed country, 20 times that of the UK when considering population level, with the province of Alberta in particular not far behind the US average. My apprehension also extends to the use of guns and strong police tactics. I have first nation aquiaintences who are constantly being harassed by the RCMP, but then they have been historically discriminated against and perhaps not representative of Sikhs, the concern being that if Sikhs do not routinely wear a kirpan openly in Canada then I may be singled out pariticually in a small town?

If this is not the case then please tell me how it works. Can I feel safe walking down the street in bana?

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You would do well to empathise with the apprehensions of someone and if it is the case, offer reassurances that their apprehensions are misplaced. I have a fundamental right to live where I chose to do so, peacefully and legally.

In Canada, the rate of law enforcement homicide is the second highest of any developed country, 20 times that of the UK when considering population level, with the province of Alberta in particular not far behind the US average. My apprehension also extends to the use of guns and strong police tactics. I have first nation aquiaintences who are constantly being harassed by the RCMP, but then they have been historically discriminated against and perhaps not representative of Sikhs, the concern being that if Sikhs do not routinely wear a kirpan openly in Canada then I may be singled out pariticually in a small town?

If this is not the case then please tell me how it works. Can I feel safe walking down the street in bana?

Canadian police are not trigger happy gun nuts shooting away at anything. There have been a few controversial cases, but still up until now no one has thought its a concerning issue.

Bana, cops wont shoot you for it, but you may get some racism/looks.

As for the Natives, lol, theyre no angels. Much of the crime in the central provinces is caused by them. Spend all day getting high and stealing etc. Racial profiling is a necessary evil.

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Canadian police are not trigger happy gun nuts shooting away at anything. There have been a few controversial cases, but still up until now no one has thought its a concerning issue.

Bana, cops wont shoot you for it, but you may get some racism/looks.

As for the Natives, lol, theyre no angels. Much of the crime in the central provinces is caused by them. Spend all day getting high and stealing etc. Racial profiling is a necessary evil.

Thank you for confirming that. I am more concerned about being stopped and questioned, harassed etc.

As for aboriginal canadians, your lack of empathy is disheartening. They've suffered a LOT, their back has been broken. Highest suicide rate in the world. No control over their lives. Religion, language, culture and children all taken away. Yet still they try to keep their spirituality alive. Canada is 'Indian land', be thankful to the natives.

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Thanks for the advice so far. In the UK and Australia, the kirpan is specifically legal throughout the country through legislation (although some Australian states impose limits e.g. in schools) and those who specificaly have 'religious appearance' like 'preachers' can wear bana and kirpan without any problem, people generally understand and officials are very cooperative. There is even guidance such as "Should you choose to wear the Kirpan externally, keep the Kirpan clearly visible." (quote from Western Australia police kirpan policy).

It seems however that there aren't any such laws in Canada, but there have been several court cases where certain organisations (schools in certain provinces, VIA rail, Greyhound, federal parliament, consulates abroad, but generally not in courts and banned from parliament buildings in Quebec) have agreed to institute a kirpan policy (wherein they state that it's not allowed to be worn openly or that it must be worn beneath clothing at all times). The only outright federal ban on offensive weapons seems to exclude the kirpan, but from what I understand, provinces have greater control on this, but I can't find any legislation specifically relating to kirpans. Although more discriminatory in general, it seems that the US affords greater rights to sikhs when it comes to the Kirpan, with a couple of states upholding it as a constitutional right and multiple cases of sikhs who were arrested and charged for wearing their kirpan openly but winning in court.

My concern is not about schools or parliament buildings, but just everyday life. Has anyone in Canada ever been arrested and tried for wearing a kirpan openly, as many have in the US? If not, does this mean that sikhs tend not to wear kirpans openly in Canada, or that they do and it's not a problem?

Any personal experience of yourself or people you know who openly wear Bana (with kirpan visible) in Canada? Please let me know so that I can approach them for advice, particuarly how to be prepared. In Australia e.g. Sikh organisations issue a "kirpan card" and advise Sikhs to carry a copy of the relevant legislation at all times to prevent being harassed by uninformed police.

Please, this is a very important issue for me.

I have written to the World Sikh Organisation (WSO) in Canada for advice. Are there any other organisations that I can contact?

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Not sure, check the local and province laws in terms of size and whatnot.

Here in the states in most places it's 2.5", but if it's openly carried then there is no length limit. I don't really abide by the length limit though. :nono:

That's very useful to know Singh, thank you. Presumably you are referring to laws surrounding knives and concealed/open carry. Do you know about the practical side of things in Canada? Do you have friends there who wear kirpan openly?

It seems that there aren't any laws relating to the Kirpan in Canada, whether federal or provincial, apart from some court cases that permit kirpans in schools and some organistions have agreed to institute a kirpan policy (wherein they state that it's not allowed to be worn openly). What about just walking down the street?

it's always best to know one's rights and de facto practice. I don't want to risk having a situation where I'm arrested or harassed for my kirpan and want to prepare well to handle any such eventuality.

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Californian police officer asking Sikhs to wear kirpan openly.

Simple question- do many Canadians wear their kirpan openly? If so, what has been your experience? If not, why not?

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Guest Jacfsing2

Californian police officer asking Sikhs to wear kirpan openly.

Simple question- do many Canadians wear their kirpan openly? If so, what has been your experience? If not, why not?

These rules only apply to California Sikhs, unlike the rest of the world; semi-autonomy is a huge deal in America; every single state has their own views on the issue. From what Daas notices, many Canadian Sikhs do wear Kirpans openly, (just from what Daas has seen).

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These rules only apply to California Sikhs, unlike the rest of the world; semi-autonomy is a huge deal in America; every single state has their own views on the issue. From what Daas notices, many Canadian Sikhs do wear Kirpans openly, (just from what Daas has seen).

Many do indeed wear them openly. And as far as I know, none have been arrested for that, Id assume its becasuse Sikhs are more recognizable and known minority group here in Canada compared to USA.

Wearing Bana in BC will probably get you looks in the areas with low Sikh populations, but in the Maritimes I think you may face some more difficulties.

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