Toronto, April 16: The Canadian government has approved a new policy which allows Sikh visitors to Canadian diplomatic missions abroad to wear kirpans.
Sikh visitors will be permitted to retain their kirpans – a religious symbol – when entering Canadian missions abroad, a statement issued by the country’s foreign affairs, trade and development ministry said.
However, the individual should secure the kirpans within a sheath, attached to a fabric belt and worn under the clothing across the torso.
They should also be in possession of the four other Sikh articles of faith — Kesh (uncut long hair), a Kangha (small wooden comb), a Kara (steel or iron bracelet), and a Kaccha (piece of undergarment), the statement said.
Tim Uppal, minister of state (multiculturalism), announced the new policy Monday on behalf of Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.
“Our government’s new kirpan policy will serve as an example and promote Canadian values around the world,” Uppal said.
President of the World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) Amritpal Singh Shergill described the move as deeply significant.
He said it showed that Canada understands and respects the significance of the kirpan to Sikhs.
“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,” he added.
The 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, the report stated.
In 2011, the legislature of eastern province of Quebec voted unanimously to ban the kirpan from its premises.
Later in 2012, Toronto became the first city in Canada to develop a formal policy allowing Sikhs to allow ceremonial daggers into courts.
Alberta province in Western Canada followed suit in 2013, with a similar policy that allowed Sikhs to wear the ceremonial religious dagger in provincial courts.
The kirpan is also accommodated at the Parliament of Canada and the Supreme Court of Canada.