Thursday, March 02, 2006

Supreme Court of Canada Overturns Ban on Kirpan in Schools

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh,

With Waheguru's blessings the Supreme Court of Canada ruled today that kirpans will be allowed in schools, and did not impose any outright restrictions on the kirpan, but left it upto the school's and the amrithari Sikh to decide.

A few noteable things that stand out to daas from the decision are as follows;

The court addressed the issue of people calling the Kirpan a weapon and a symbol of violence by saying;
"disrespectful to believers in the Sikh religion and does not take into account Canadian values based on multiculturalism"

The court also went on to put some of the burden of educating people about the kirpan on our educational institutions by saying;

"If some students consider it unfair that Gurbaj Singh may wear his kirpan to school while they are not allowed to have knives in their possession, it is incumbent on the schools to discharge their obligation to instil in their students this value that is ... at the very foundation of our democracy."

Another key point to note is that this case has been distinguished from cases of travelling with a kirpan and bringing a kirpan into a courtroom. It looks like the court limited this decision to just the educational environment by essentially saying that in a school environment you know the people quite well and are there for years, whereas while travelling that is a temporary situation where people don't know each other very well, and in a court where the proceedings are pressure packed and adversarial.

"where there is an ongoing relationship between the student and the school and with that a meaningful opportunity to assess the circumstances of the individual seeking the accommodation, air travel involves a transitory population. Significant numbers of people are processed each day, with minimal opportunity for assessment."

They go on to say,

"Courts and schools are not comparable institutions. One is a tightly circumscribed environment in which contending elements, adversarially aligned, strive to obtain justice as they see it, with judge and/or jury determining the final outcome. Schools on the other hand are living communities which, while subject to some controls, engage in the enterprise of education in which both teachers and students are partners. Also, a court appearance is temporary (a Khalka Sikh could conceivably deal with the prohibition of the kirpan as he/she would on an airplane ride) and is therefore not comparable to the years a student spends in the school system."

Waheguru. So overall it is a good day for Sikhs with Guru Ji's Kirpa. The court unanimously decided 8-0 in allowing kirpans in schools. 8-0 is rare in the Supreme Court of Canada so this is a huge victory.

One thing that stuck out in daas's mind is that on CTV a young Sikh named "Bhullar" was interviewed giving his views about the decision, and without being provoked he went out of his way to say kirpans worn to school are pretty small and are pretty much inaccesible because of the gatra (implied being sown shut almost). Daas does not understand this apologist attitude, and feels that we have had a huge victory with Guru Ji's blessing and do not need to have an apologist attitude for wearing our kirpan, and kirpan also does not have to be small. Daas knows many people who wear larger kirpans to school each day.

The court seemed reluctant to address this case, and daas also feels that the best way to deal with the Kirpan issue is not always through the court, and that Sikhs should put pressure on their governments to institute a nation wide policy on Kirpan rights.

Daas requests everyone to read some extra bani today to thank Waheguru for making this outcome. Daas also reminds everyone that although we have won this case with Guru Sahibs blessings, the overall battle has just begun. This case seems to be restricted to educational situations and in the future we will still have to stand up for our rights to wear kirpan in court, and while travelling amongst other places.

The situation with Balpreet Singh and VIA Rail, about bringing kirpans onto the VIA trains has not been addressed with this case, and as it stands VIA Rail still bans kirpans from being brought onto trains.

For the court decision you can follow the following link

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh