Little India: Overseas Indian, NRI, Asian Indian, Indian American

Quebec Sikhs Seek Govt Measures for Greater Inclusion in Society

Sikh men carrying kirpan [Representational Image]

The World Sikh Organization of Canada has urged the province of Quebec and the City of Montreal to take positive measures to boost inclusion of people from the community in the public sector.

The Sikh community comprises 1.5 percent of the national population of Canada, and there are about 15,000 Sikhs in Quebec itself, but there are hardly any employees from the community in the provincial civil services, WSO president Mukhbir Singh said, according to a statement from the organization.

“Sikhs are proud Quebecers, and the community wants to play a greater role serving the province it calls home,” Singh said, the Global News reported.

“Sadly we note that there are virtually no Sikhs employees in the Montreal and provincial civil services. Moreover, the Montreal police and Surete du Quebec have yet to allow the wearing of the turban and develop hiring policies that could attract otherwise qualified Sikh candidates,” he added, according to the statement.

Singh said that such restrictions gave a deep impact on the collective mindset of the community.

“Every year, we organize camps where children come together and we talk about what [they] want to do as a future career,” Singh said. “It’s heartbreaking when we get a response like, ‘I want to be a police officer in Montreal,’ and you have to tell them that their article of faith is a barrier at this point.”

The organization pointed out that the Quebec National Assembly is the only legislature in Canada that bars Sikhs from carrying kirpan, which sends a negative message to the general population against the community.

It has requested leaders of all the four political parties in Quebec to meet the Sikh community leaders to establish a dialogue in order to take further measures. It has also urged the Montreal and provincial police forces to develop policies that will permit recruitment of Sikh candidates who wear turbans. The organization has also asked for policies to be put in place that would help Sikhs in applying for positions in the public sector. It also sought rules that would allow kirpan-carrying Sikhs to enter the legislature.

The media conference was also attended by Montreal city Councilor Marvin Rotrand, who spoke in support of the Sikh community members in Quebec.

“When there’s discussions about immigration and new communities, it usually deals with persons who are Muslim or Jewish and their needs in the community, and Sikhs are virtually unknown,” he told the Global News. “What they’re asking for is a dialogue that will demystify them as a community, get people to know who they [are] and what they can do.”